NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
'PHILIP GOES FORTH': THEATER REVIEW
September 22, 2013
Don’t quit your day job, pal.
You might get the urge to say that to the young man at the center of George Kelly’s vintage three-act, “Philip Goes Forth,” a 1931 play about playwriting.
Very meta, no?
Kelly won a Pulitzer Prize for the 1925 drama “Craig’s Wife,” and is best-known for his 1922 theatrical satire, “The Torch-Bearers.” He was also the uncle of actress and future princess Grace Kelly.
The Mint Theatre, a company devoted to resurrecting forgotten works, breathes fresh life into “Philip” in the play’s first New York revival in 82 years.
Director Jerry Ruiz’s staging packs zesty performances and evocative scenery.
The Depression-era story concerns the impulsive 22-year-old Philip Eldridge (a lively and likable Bernardo Cubria).
Sick of working at the company built by his dad (Cliff Bemis), Philip wants out of business (even though he’s got a head for commerce) to become a dramatist (even though he’s never put a word on paper and shows no signs of talent).
There’s a huge difference between thinking about writing a play and actually doing it. Let alone, doing it well. But Philip is determined to have it his way — at least for a while.
There’s an array of characters filling Philip’s ear, and a few actors stand out. Carole Healey lends colorful humor as a free-spirted rich family friend, who’s written her own play — it’s called, cleverly, “Ironica.”
Rachel Moulton is a hoot as an eccentric New Yorker who finds endless drama in a scrap of damask. And Kathryn Kates lends a touch of gravity as a former leading lady of the stage who’s no stranger to hard realities.
In the end, “Philip Goes Forth” isn’t about shattering dreams of aspiring writers, but about knowing who you are, what you’re not and what really matters.
All three of those themes are worth writing home about.