To many, the act of creation is sacred and to some holy. The art we cherish today has immense power of transcendence, be it a painting, music, a story, or film and its expansive nature grants the creator immortality. This is the hope for all artists; the eternal hope that all strive for. Tolstoy in Suffolk addresses the sense of accomplishment an artist derives upon completion versus the brutal reality of the marketplace. It is the open wound that many understand, some conquered, few overcome.
Producer Greg Berman (JD Cullum) is in a bind. He has traveled to Sussex, England from Los Angeles to entice eccentric author Brendham Wren (a magnetic Stephen Caffrey) to pen a script for a chance to become relevant again. Berman offers a share of the take and credit, but Wren doesn’t budge. Rather, he insults and reprimands his guest. Once the two have disclosed their ulterior motives, it begins a complex and hilarious dichotomy of craft versus numbers, of artistic integrity against popular (and elusive) popular taste.
Writer/director Robert Allan Ackerman has a razor sharp wit and indelible grasp on the harsh nature of the film and theatre industries as well as the exacting toll it can take to create a good and popular work of art. Caffrey gets all the good lines and his character has the verbal ferocity of a ninja. His counterpoint (Cullum) relays how success can bring not only monetary rewards, but also a redemptive aspect that both characters sorely lack.
The production is an excellent example of how a good script, placed in the hand of an able director who works with seasoned actors, produces a funny, thought-provoking and entertaining work of art.
There is always more than meets the eye.
“Tolstoy in Suffolk” runs through Sunday, November 19 at Studio C located at 6448 Santa Monica Blvd. in Hollywood. For tickets visit TolstoyInSuffolk.BrownPaperTickets.com or call (800) 838-3006.