RICHARD: Look, if it’s all about wanting something-- and it is, trust me, it is all about wanting something-- then there’s hope now that you want something like-- I don’t know-- forgiveness, absolution, to be able stomach passing your reflection in a shop window, to go back and undo what you’ve done: even if what you want’s impossible-- fuck!-- especially then, you’re saved. You’re lost! You’re saved! Congratulations.

An excerpt from Paul Mullin’s new play The Good Ship Manhattan, which will be making its world premiere two weeks from tonight in Los Angeles.

Tackling two hot headline topics, corrupt corporate culture and the aftermath of 9/11, The Good Ship Manhattan tells the story of Richard, who escaped to New York from a life of quiet desperation teaching junior high history in Baltimore. Now he subsidizes his alcoholic flirtation with oblivion by temping at a Madison Avenue advertising conglomerate. But once his boss Greg finally convinces him to “go permanent,” all corporate hell breaks loose. What do an obsessive-compulsive corporate comptroller, an ex piano prodigy, a poetess-bartender, and a burnt-out school teacher have in common? Well, for one they’re all mates on the Good Ship Manhattan, and as the action builds through the summer of 2001, whether they sense it or not, they’re sailing into some of the roughest seas this beaten old boat has ever seen.

This was the inaugural production of a new company calling itself the SMALLER project. Desirous of being a “small theatre with big ideas,” the SMALLER project will produce plays with thoughtful material, taking time and care with their presentation, which will limit the output of the project to two or three full productions a year. The Good Ship Manhattan is the fifth Mullin play produced in L.A. The others include Louis Slotin Sonata (LA Weekly Award, L.A. Drama Critics Circle Ted Schmitt Award); A much-lauded adaptation of John Gardner’s Grendel; An American Book Of The Dead—The Game Show, all for Circle X Theatre Company, as well as a Sacred Fools production, Tuesday.

William Salyers directs and says, “What appeals to me about Mullin’s writing is that he creates people who are fierce, smart, funny, and also shallow, self-interested, and flailing. He puts these people in heart-wrenching, impossible situations and then forces them to rise above themselves and find some nobility... The Good Ship Manhattan is about the pathetic, often humorous attempts of four New Yorkers to change and “improve” each other , and the changes that eventually do occur as the result of something spectacular, unanticipated, and awful.” Salyers has previously worked on a number of Mullin projects over the years, including portraying the character of Louis Slotin in both Los Angeles and New York. Salyers is the Artistic Director of the SMALLER project.

The cast of The Good Ship Manhattan included Michelle Noh (seen this winter in a leading role in the Sacred Fools production of Peer Gynt), Christy O’Keefe (The Gilmore Girls, Strong Medicine), Bart Tangredi (Robert De Niro’s dad in Analyze This and Analyze That), and Patrick Tuttle (Crossing Jordan).

Set design was by Gary Smoot, winner of Ovation and Garland Awards for his prior work. Lighting design: Michael Resnick. Costume design: Molly Dewane. Sound design: Tim Labor. Production stage manager: Alicia Loggie.

WHERE: 2100 Square Feet, 5615 San Vicente Blvd.( between La Brea and Fairfax), Los Angeles.

WHEN: Friday March 7 through Saturday April 5, 2003. Thursdays through Saturdays @ 8 p.m., Sunday matinees @ 2 p.m.

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