Piven stars with Elizabeth Moss, from my beloved West Wing, and Raul Eparaza, who absolutely holds in own against the dynamo that is Ari Gold.
Okay, Piven doesn't actually play Ari Gold in Speed-the-Plow, I realize this. But he might as well have. Its the same role...the same testosterone laced ego, the pointed glances, the jarring inflections. That Piven played Bob Gould as Ari Gold wasn't an error, and most certainly not a disappointment. There is no doubt Piven's scale as an actor--three Emmy's, thank you very much. Its just that this is Piven's playground. No one else could have nailed the Hollywood He-Man with the same satisfying gusto. Ari he needed to be.
Speed-the-Plow is a swift 90 minute battle--three scenes, no intermission--between art and commerce. Piven and Eparaza hold commerce in their greedy Hollywood trenches, knowing full well that money, fame, and glory stand as prizes. It isn't art, Piven thunders... its not supposed to be! But alas. In walks the girl, clutching art as her moral compass. And there lies the story.
Moss does a gorgeous job with the subtlety of her character's humor... after all, she does represent goodness in this tale. But with goodness comes naivety, and with naivety comes the brunt of many-a-joke (and as the case may be, a bet on the likelihood of Piven sleeping with her). Moss owns this. Her lines center around the reading and analyzing aloud of an Eastern text that she wishes to be made into a movie. That she needs to be made into a movie... for art's sake of course.
This is where the play accomplishes an extremely difficult task in not asking us, or letting us, choose sides. We are as baffled as Piven, who at one climactic point turns away from the other two and states in jaded comedic defeat, 'I am so confused.' So are we. At this point, no one knows which side to join, which banner to wave. Its Eparaza, in the end, who sets everything straight, as reason often will. We leave content and completely satisfied, another impossible task firmly accomplished after a 90 minute moral debate.
Although- this script and these actors didn't take the content too seriously. Thats the unholy beauty of it all--they didn't actually ask us to do so either. It was light and funny and extremely smart which convinces me that theater---that art (ah ha!)--will always come out on top.