LaBute, Neil. The Money Shot.
Publisher: Overlook, 2014.
Premiere Lucille Lortel Theatre, NYC, 2014.
Settings: A “really nice,” Spanish-style patio in the Hollywood Hills—Karen & Bev’s home.
Characters: Steve (48?) & Missy (24), guests. Karen & Bev, (30s or 40s?) partners.
French Scene 1 (14 pp.): Steve & Karen need to visit about their sex scene due to be shot tomorrow. Both are veteran actors. He’s an insensitive idiot; she seems pretty grounded at first. Missy is a trifle that Steve picked up on the beach in Hawaii; they claim to be soul mates. Bev is a crew member (assistant editor?) and bristly. She and Steve are like oil and water, and Karen keeps trying to pull her into line. The sex scene comes up twice in this scene, but is immediately dropped as small talk once more takes over. Finally, Karen snaps at Bev, accuses her of being an intellectual snob (she went to Brown), and goes to check on dinner.
French Scene 2 (4 pp.): The conversation accidentally shifts to Steve’s age (48 or 50?) much to his chagrin—and Bev’s secret joy.
French Scene 3 (8 pp.): Karen returns with hors d’oeuvres. Bev and Steve have a miscommunication about Nazis and Bev’s German ancestry, and Karen jumps all over Bev for being so contentious. It comes out that Steve & Missy are in a therapy group; Karen starts to tell about hers and Bev’s situation, and Bev throws a fit. The cutting room calls Bev and she leaves to take the call.
French Scene 4 (7 pp.): Karen burst into tears about her relationship with Bev then confides that they’re trying to get pregnant which brings up Steve’s 2 kids, his and Missy’s intention to eventually have a kid, and his paternity suits. Missy entertains them with a “dance” she did in her high school production of Crucible.
French Scene 5 (10 pp.): Bev finds out Karen talked about their plans and blows WAY up. Steve and Bev argue about whether or not Belgium’s in Europe (Steve doesn’t think so). They are about to discuss the sex scene that Bev has problems with when a chance reference to poster for their movie causes a HUGE argument between Bev and Karen. Missy leaves, ostensibly to “powder her nose” but actually to eat a few more hors d’oeuvres she has sneaked into her purse.
French Scene 6 (3 pp.): Karen and Bev’s fight escalates until they’re about to split—Karen’s fears about being a has-been actress being central—until suddenly they pull back and embrace.
French Scene 7 (27 pp.): Missy returns wiping her mouth. It turns out the “money shot” is actual sex on camera between Steve and Karen. They claim it will rejuvenate their careers, be a historic first, etc. Steve says it’ll be “classy.” Missy eventually suggests they make a list of things they can and can’t do in the scene. They start with anal, etc. Finally Steve makes one more “lezzie” comment and Bev jumps all over him. He’s about to leave when Bev challenges him to a wrestling match. He eventually agrees and they make a bet: if he wins, he and Karen can do the sex scene; if she wins, she and Missy go upstairs and have sex. Along the way, he discovers Missy has stuffed her purse with shrimp snacks, and he goes off on all women. They wrestle, Bev wins, and Missy calls it. She points out that Steve used her, and she and Bev go inside to have sex, with Missy in the lead.
French Scene 8 (2 pp.): Left alone, with moans and groans coming from the open upstairs window, Karen and Steve don’t know what to do. She suggests they talk. Like visit? They can’t think of anything to say. End of play.
This is one of the funniest plays I’ve read or seen in a long time. The comedy is primarily character-based. Steve excels as a self-deluding, ignorant, egotistical, homophobic boor. Karen turns out to be scared to death about losing her edge, terribly controlling toward Bev, and unsympathetic to Bev’s concerns. Bev, clearly the most intelligent of them all, obnoxiously can’t let a potential argument go to waste, and Missy’s just a silly piece of flesh. Until. Until it turns out that Bev and Missy rise up, rebel, grind Steve into the dirt and leave the two aging divas with their thumbs up their asses.