Review: I Ought to Be in Pictures

“This Ikea catalog has some cute new futons.”

“This Ikea catalog has some cute new futons.”

Photo courtesy of the Sacramento Theatre Company

6:30 p.m. Thursday, 8p.m. Friday; 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday, 6:30 p.m. Sunday. $15-$38. Sacramento Theatre Company, 1419 H Street; (916) 443-6722; Through December 11.
Rated 4.0

Sacramento Theatre Company’s latest production is a take on Neil Simon’s I Ought to Be in Pictures, one of his lesser-known works, but, particularly in this production directed by Bill Zarriello, a little gem that is full of schmaltz, anger, love and family dysfunction, all of which are common Simon themes.

One of the reasons this production is so good is thanks to Kate Brugger, a member of STC’s Young Professionals troupe, as daughter Libby. She exudes a self-assurance that seems to come naturally to her. Throughout the production, Brugger shows a vulnerability behind her naive bravado that’s endearing. (The actress alternates in the role with Fiona Ross).

Libby is the 19-year-old daughter of Herb Tucker (Eric Wheeler), a down-on-his-luck Hollywood writer who abandoned his family 16 years ago and has not been seen since. Libby arrives unannounced on his doorstep saying she has come to get into film and wants him to introduce her to “people.”

There’s a strained relationship between father and daughter—and the father’s girlfriend Steffy (Natasha Hause)—and it is quickly apparent that what Libby really wants is a relationship with her father, who has commitment phobia.

Wheeler as Herb takes a bit of time to get into character, though by the second act the chemistry between him and Brugger is very real.

There is less humor and more drama in the second act, but in the end, there is a great warmth which develops between Libby and Herb and a tearful, though happy, ending.