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Well written FICTION gets excellent production at Actors’ Summit

Well written FICTION gets excellent production at Actors’ Summit

Roy Berko

(Member, American Theatre Critics Association & Cleveland Critics Circle)


Tennessee Williams, Edward Albee, William Inge, Arthur Miller, Stephen Dietz.  What do these playwrights have in common?  They are on the list of the top ten American writers who have the most produced plays.  Never heard of Dietz?  You are not alone. He is a regional playwright who makes a living as a college professor and writing scripts that are done in mid-America.


Dietz is a prolific writer, having penned more than 30 original plays. He’s scribed political, comedic, and personal scripts.  Most center on the effects of personal betrayal and deception.


In contrast to playwrights who write a script, showcase it, and then have some production company stage it, many of Dietz’s works go from computer right into acting editions that are published by Dramatists Play Service or Samuel French.  Many of his short plays appear in anthologies.  Broadway is not on the list of sites for his works.


Actors’ Summit, which is producing FICTION, a 2002 Dietz work, did a delightful production of his commissioned piece, BECKY’S NEW CAR, in 2011, which was written as a birthday present from a man to his wife.


Dietz is a wordsmith.  He writes poetic language and produces quotable feasts.  His lines include such bon mots as describing a character in FICTION as “having a mouth like a machine that goes by itself.”  Another character states, “you don’t leap a shadow, you just run through it.”  Describing a discussion between a man and his wife, he states, “The point? Why does there need to be a point. . .the Great Reductiveness in which everything we say must be shrunk down to You Make a Point and I Refute it; I Make a Statement and You Rebut It. Is that really the best we can do?.” A secret that his ill wife is keeping inspires the statement, “A secret, like a disease, is a very human thing. It hides inside you. Discovers where you are most vulnerable. And then it hurts you.”


FICTION centers on an author (Michael), his wife (Linda) , his lover (Abby), and a series of secrets.  The married duo originally met at a Paris café, develop an argumentative repartee, and avoid “real talk” by playing verbal ping pong.  Michael and Abby met at a writer’s seminar, and have a strained relationship.


Linda, who has been diagnosed with a fatal brain tumor, teaches literary fiction and book writing, and is the author of a critically acclaimed novel based on her supposed rape while in South Africa. Michael is a commercially successful novelist who is uncomfortable with his having “sold out” to the movie industry and forced to write best selling pithy novels. Both are prolific journal keepers and it is their journals which serve as the touchstone of their problems.


Linda figures she has about ” twenty meals” left in her life, and asks Michael to read her heretofore strictly private journals after her death, and she asks to read his.  She explains ” “It’s ludicrous…not to mention vain — I mean vain in a truly Tom Wolfe-ian sort of way — to think that they are not real, that I am not real unless someone reads them.”   From this request, through a series of audience affronts and interactions, we are led down an intriguing path which reveals much and makes for the questioning of the truth of it all.


The well paced Actors’ Summit production, which is adeptly directed by MaryJo Alexander, is compelling.  Though it is all words, with no comedy, and no explosive action, there are enough highlighted twists and turns and questions of what is true and what is fiction, to grab and hold the audience.


Sally Groth (Linda), Bob Keefe (Michael) and Cassandra Capocci (Abby)  each develop a real, living character.  The parts aren’t acted, they are lived.


CAPSULE JUDGEMENT:  FICTION is a well crafted script which should be appreciated by people who enjoy good acting and literate dialogue.  I’d class it as a “go see” for those who can forsake lots of pseudo-drama or escapist comedy.


For tickets to FICTION, which runs through February 3, call 330-342-0800 or go to


Coming up:  ACTORS’ Summit’s next offering is the recent off-Broadway smash, FREUD’S LAST SESSION, from February 28-March 17.  It will star 2012 Cleveland Critics Circle’s Best Actor award winner Brian Zoldessy.  For a review of the off-Broadway show go to and search under the Broadway link.