Mark and Ryan are trying to be supportive by going to see their friend’s play. Let’s just say that on their way out, they have mixed feelings they can’t seem to really articulate. Nino Mancuso is back on SotW today with his new short comedic film, A Play. Once more he uses humor and awkwardness to depict a situation that is all too familiar, with an original direction, a sharp screenplay, and hilarious performances.
Just like previously featured I Know Jake Gyllenhaal Is Going To Fuck My Girlfriend, today’s feature is a collaboration between director Mancuso and actor/writer/producer Sean Wing. With their other two writers/producers, they explore the idea of the value of art and just having to sit through a friend’s god-awful performance and handling the post-show conversations.
Traumatized by similar events in their personal lives (and let’s be real we have all gone through a similar experience), the filmmakers compiled all the possible scenarios from this premise, really maximising the comedy. A lot of thought was given to the actual play, as we also get information through the dialogue on what happened during the performance, every single description is part of the joke, making us laugh at Mark and Ryan for having sat through it.
The interaction that follows the performance, their friend asking for honest feedback, the awkwardness of their answers is pitch perfectly laugh and cringe inducing. They managed to write a screenplay that combines hilarity and extreme realism, making the film all the more enjoyable with its entertaining yet relatable dimension.
The strong screenplay is carried to the screen by a great ensemble and Mancuso’s choices. The leads Wing and Paul Witten manage to portray the awkwardness of the situation they wrote in a compelling way, communicating to the audience the pickle they’re in. Their inner struggle of how to tell your friend that she sucks is depicted in a way that keeps the film from falling into the sketch category.
The rest of the cast is perfect at bringing all the different kinds of artists to the story, exposing the two leads to different situations all as awkward and funny as the previous one. We have the friend who wants to know what you thought of the play, the actor desperate for an agent, the one who doesn’t really care and the borderline megalomaniac writer/director/investor and they all want to know what their favorite part of the play was.
Mancuso captures Mark and Ryan’s growing anxiety, of not knowing what to say as they try to avoid criticizing the play, with a creative camera movement that was initially choreographed and blocked to avoid a static look. As the tension grows, the film takes an unexpected turn in its tone, making the climax even funnier and satisfying.
Not only is the film great entertainment it also raises the important question… Is it fair to tell your artist friends your real opinion on their work, and mostly is it fair of them to ask?
Mancuso and his team of collaborators are currently eyeing a second season of their Amazon Prime comedy web series Dropping The Soap, that earned Jane Lynch (also an EP on this film) an Emmy for Outstanding Actress in a Short Form Comedy or Drama Series.