- Two BIG One-Person Shows! -- Two BIG One-Person Evenings! -

Ben Davis' BIG SHOT
Written & Performed
by Ben Davis

Dorothy Parker's BIG BLONDE
Adapted & Performed
by Shirley Anderson

Mondays @ 8pm Tues & Wed @ 8pm
Sun (2/2 & 2/16) @ 2pm
January 27 - February 26, 2003

Reservations: (310) 281-8337
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Directed by Scott Rabinowitz

Join us for Ben Davis' critically-acclaimed
one-man show that asks the question;
"What would you do for your one big shot?"

"A cautionary yarn well spun, a scary but comical journey into the dark heart of Hollywood."
- L.A. Times

"A harrowing and hilarious coming-of-age
chronicle of a young artist in Hollywood."
- Daily Variety

In association with
Future Stars of Hollywood & Assocs. 
Publicity Outfitters


Directed by Anthony Byrnes
Produced by David LM Mcintyre

Dorothy Parker's wickedly funny and unforgiving portrait of a "good time gal" drifting from man to man in a sea of whiskey, drowning her loneliness with dreams of an easy escape.

"Artful!...Ironic, incisive!"
- LA Weekly

"Damn funny...sad, and thoughtful, Parker would only be pleased."
- Backstage West

"A spectacular elaboration on a classic story....Stunning!...A welcome addition to any night out!"
- Los Angeles Loyolan

"Chilling yet wickedly funny...
- Chicago Reader

"...heartbreaking... you'll never be able to read Dorothy Parker again without picturing Shirley Anderson as the bitter-sweet lead in every tale." - The Independent (Scotland)

"Superlative... one of the strongest productions this reviewer has had the pleasure of witnessing at this Festival."
- The List, Edinburgh, Scotland

"...unforgettable stage experience. Miss it at your peril."
- The Glasgow Herald

Lighting Designer: Heatherlynn Lane
Photography: David Catlin

This production is made possible
in cooperation with the NAACP

Greetings to visitors from

Dorothy Parker's New York
The Life and Good Times
of the Infamous Mrs. Parker

  REVIEWS from
the Sacred Fools run...
  LA Weekly

Adapter-performer Shirley Anderson executes an artful turn in her dramatization of Dorothy Parker’s short story about a good-time gal’s steep descent into alcoholism and depression. Buxom, bimbolike and with an easy laugh, barfly Hazel (Anderson) starts out as the sort of woman men refer to as "a good sport." Past her youth, she marries; when that fails, she flits through a series of lovers, each less attractive and more abusive than the last. Gradually growing more melancholy — and less desirable to her men — she takes to drink. Then come the drugs. Parker’s ironic, incisive prose poignantly pierces this sad, displaced character’s veneer. Directed by Anthony Byrnes, Anderson simultaneously narrates events while portraying the heroine’s mystified response to them — a style that speaks aptly and effectively to her subject’s alienation.

-- Deborah Klugman
©2003 LA Weekly

Backstage West

Shirley Anderson has adapted Dorothy Parker's story into a taut, melancholy one-woman play. Parker's writing finds careful attention here, shining through in all its bittersweet glory. It is poignant and painful, sad without ever being overwrought, and last but not least it is damn funny. Anderson serves not only as adapter but also as performer, bringing Parker's Big Blonde to life with wonderful specificity.

Entering the empty space set with only a few props and furniture pieces, Anderson tells the story in the third person. Slowly as she puts on the trappings of the blonde, including a bouncing curly wig, she becomes the woman inside the story. She goes forward, both telling and experiencing the woman's story, with solid skill and a gentle hand. Anderson knows how to take her time: She doesn't push and never rushes, trusting to the power of the text.

Director Anthony Byrnes does a good job of staying out of the way, giving Anderson just the vital elements she needs. There is nothing extraneous here, and Byrnes finds a balance between theatricality and storytelling. The layers pull away gently, and a slow, methodical scene late in the piece is chilling in its simple repetition. Byrnes doesn't succeed as well with the technical aspects of the piece, too often letting Anderson flounder in the dark. The lighting design, no doubt created for the space's other show, does nothing for the piece--a sloppy oversight with unfortunate consequences. Anderson often ends up obscured in the shadows, even during climactic moments. We need to see Anderson to care about her. More specifically we need to see her eyes, and when she is in the dark--or during a rather long section when she has her back turned to us--it is hard to stay involved.

Technical flaws aside, the piece is lovely. Funny, sad, and thoughtful, Parker would only be pleased.

-- J.A. Eliason
©2003 Backstage West


‘Blonde’s’ Roots Run Deep
All Jokes Aside: Theatrical rendition of award winning author’s book takes a serious look at the “typical” blonde.

To get the most out of “Big Blonde,” one must know the history of its author, Dorothy Parker. Born in 1893, she was educated in a New Jersey convent. Upon moving to New York, she began to make waves in the form of book and theatre reviews. Her sharp, sardonic wit and often cruel humor found its way into the pages of Vogue, Vanity Fair and finally The New Yorker, where she achieved fame for her column “The Constant Reader.” Known for her barbarous insults, she was quoted as writing, “This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown aside with great force.”

During this time, she gained recognition for her satirical, but unstylish poetry as well as her powerful short stories. She was a co-founder of the Algonquin Round Table, a gathering of New York literary figures and in addition, she was a playwright and screenwriter, winning an Oscar for the 1937 version of “A Star Is Born.”

One of her most celebrated short stories is “Big Blonde,” written in 1929. It is a fictional account of the downfall of a woman, yet relies heavily on Parker’s own life and is inspired by her first marriage, filled with alcohol, promiscuity and three suicide attempts.
What rises from “Big Blonde” is the notion that blondes may not have all the fun.

The popular stereotype of blondes is that of bright, bubbly, fun “guy’s girls.” Even in modern days, this stereotype still exists. Parker illustrates that this perception is completely unfounded, existing only on a surface level. What do these blondes do when not out at a party, in a bar, or in a bed? “Big Blonde” shows audiences a deeper understanding of these women past the first dimension. Even though Parker may not have been a blonde, she shows that she knows what it is like for a woman to be crushed by unreasonable expectations.

The play’s central character is Hazel Morse (Shirley Anderson), just one of many women in New York enduring the unwanted, but inevitable process of aging past 25. Hoping to connect to some form of humanity, she gets stuck in a dead-end marriage to Herbie, a drunk. Prone to crying over distressing articles in newspapers, she is mentally unstable and often allows unmotivated emotions to enter her relationships. When all seems lost between Hazel and Herbie, she takes up drinking and even though she doesn’t enjoy the taste, it is her means of escape. When Herbie finally leaves her, she begins to spend time in a neighborhood bar, becoming one of the many lost, lonely women hiding in a world of men and booze.

Jumping from suitor to suitor, her life takes on less and less meaning, until finally she has had enough. Her efforts to take matters into her own hands reveal an undesirable selfishness, but depending on how one looks at her last few moments, all may not be lost.
What actress Shirley Anderson has done is not exactly an adaptation, but more of a dramatization of the short story. Despite a few small excised passages, she performs the short story verbatim, narration included, always speaking of herself in the third person. What she does do is flesh out the character, adding her own physical twists in the process of becoming the tragic figure. With just a chair, vanity table and coat stand, she gives the audience a performance they will never forget. Alone onstage for the 45 minute running length, she delivers a powerful monologue, filled with such passion and heartbreak that it is impossible not to sympathize with her.

Anderson has a perfect grasp on Parker’s themes which could be attributed to the fact that last year she played Parker herself in “Gatsby in Hollywood.” Her dramatic action supports the story fully, her mannerisms and staging strengthen every moment. One particularly audacious and laudable blocking choice has her back turned to the audience for an extended amount of time, perfect for the significantly heartrending moment.

Every vital word is given the attention it deserves, and there is something truly wonderful about the way Anderson delivers such passages as “she was beginning to feel toward alcohol a little puzzled distrust, as toward an old friend who had refused a simple favor.” Almost every line has a deeper meaning, a layered account of a woman on the edge.

Anderson’s adaptation helps the audience laugh away some of the melancholy and utter hopelessness of Hazel’s life through satirical instances. She also has a flair for spinning the words together in a way that puts the audience into the scattered mind of the protagonist, pathetic as she may be.

A one-woman one-act may not appeal to everyone, but that is their loss. Even if one has not read Parker’s works, it is still easy to feel her words through Anderson’s stunning portrayal. For those who have, this play will be a spectacular elaboration on a classic story.

“Big Blonde,” unlike the troubled main character, is stunning, and should be a welcome addition to any night out.

-- Marcus Gorman
©2003 Los Angeles Loyolan