Tony Mastroianni Review Collection
Gig Young Excellent in "Albatross"
Cleveland Press July 22, 1970
"Nobody Loves an Albatross," which opened last night as a Kenley Players' presentation in Warren stars Gig Young as a lovable rat.
The play is about a television writer and producer who hasn't written anything in years. He just puts his name on scripts written by underpaid hacks whom he convinces he is honoring by doing so.
For this man there is no prevaricating about prevaricating. He not only lies, he boasts about his lies, points to them as works of art.
Through him and an assortment of characters who surround him playwright Ronald Alexander paints a picture of television that is not so much satirical as it is cynical.
THE HERO of "Albatross" is a three times divorced man who is currently entertaining his 8-year-old daughter for the summer. She, the maid and a newly hired secretary are the only decent people in the play.
The story really doesn't go anywhere but, like a TV situation comedy, takes a single idea and keeps it alive for an evening without developing it.
THE WRITER, faced with an ultimatum to produce a script or be destroyed turns out a rewrite job of an old Shirley Temple movie. Hailed at first for the brilliance of his work, he later is exposed and must turn and wheel and deal elsewhere to continue his existence.
As a climax for a play it isn't much. Aren't most TV shows rewrites of old, old Shirley Temple movies?
The play is more a collection of one liners than it is dialog with Young expertly delivering the bulk of them. He is glib, charming and convincing. The character he plays is a con man, liar, cheat, lecher but also companionable, funny and entertaining.
ONE GOOD THING about this play is that the character is convincing right to the end. There is no sudden turnabout with a fadeout. A rat is a rat is a rat.
Young makes the man likable however by making him casually roguish. There is a disarming simplicity about his phoniness, a nervous energy in his performance that makes the character and the play better than they are.
As the secretary Jean Hart is charmingly wistful. Lisa Essary as the daughter is an 8-year-old scene stealer.
EDGAR MEYER is fey and fascinating as the strange man who has invented a laugh machine which he considers almost human. He is funny and interesting enough to deserve a play of his own.
Toni Gillman as the woman who heads a studio as well as her own TV program is supposed to be alternately funny and grim. The funny is okay but the grim needs sharpening.