The world premiere of “Jennifer Aniston Stole My Life” by Jon Courie, directed by Deborah Geffner, is taking place at the Hudson Guild Theater during the Hollywood Fringe Festival, featuring four Emmy Award winning and Tony nominated cast members. Image and Likeness LLC produced the dark and comic play.
“Jennifer Aniston Stole My Life” is what you get if you took four characters from a sitcom with a heart of gold, stuck them in a Sam Shepard play and sprinkled in some arsenic. It’s the Fall of 2009 in a dilapidated North Hollywood apartment. Rue Murphy (Barbara Keegan) has a failing house-cleaning business, a stalled acting career, five maxed out credit cards, and a grown-up, ex-child star but now dependent daughter named Lo (Jesse Holcomb) who, to put it kindly, now spends most days “knitting with only one needle.”
Neighbor, part-time porn producer, and building manager Morty Saks (Barry Gordon) wants the rent as well as Rue’s good Glenfiddich whiskey which he freely helps himself to each time he visits. He may have a bad back, but his interest in the ladies never fails him. Gordon is a pleasure to watch in his depravity.
To make ends meet, Rue sublets their not-so-spare bedroom to Shari Katzin (Diana Wright), a newly-hatched LA transplant, whose ruthless optimism will surely tip the precarious balance of their lives for better… or…maybe in the other direction. For when Shari gets her big break with assistance from the three others, Rue’s green-eyed monster rears its ugly head and sends her into a tail spin.
In this grey world of reality TV shows, chemical cocktails, and financial anorexia, Jennifer Aniston glimmers as a beacon of beauty and hope, a symbol of all that is healthy and good, the ideal embodiment of that most glorious American creature, The Celebrity. But as Rue discovers, be careful what you wish for, you just might (never) get it.
While the play is full of laughs and wide-eyed optimism, it is also full of despair. Mother-daughter relationships are never easy, and Keegan and Holcomb authentically play co-dependency for all it is worth. But since Rue and Lo suffer from mental illness in varying degrees, neither seems to be able to do anything about it other than try to medicate it away when it becomes a problem. But even that decision has fateful consequences at the end.
Enjoy the laughs, enjoy the ridiculous nature of “celebrity,” and be surprised at what a Mother’s love allows her to do.
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