Set in the Runyonesque New York of the Jazz Age, when artists rubbed shoulders with gangsters at speakeasies, this is the story of idealistic young playwright David Shayne (Cusack). With backing from mob boss Nick Valenti (Viterelli), Shayne can direct his new work on Broadway, and even attract stars of the magnitude of Helen Sinclair (Wiest) and Warner Purcell (Broadbent). There's just one catch: Valenti insists that his flapper girlfriend Olive (Tilly) play a leading role. Not only is she terrible, she comes with a shadow, Nick's bodyguard Cheech (Palminteri), who oversees the rehearsals with barely concealed impatience. A merciless satire on the pretensions, hypocrisies and indulgences of theatre folk, this is Allen's fizziest piece in years. It's propped up by two fiercely competitive caricatures from Tilly and Wiest, who completely and appropriately overshadow Cusack's approximation of the inexperienced author. It must be said that this is scarcely new ground, and that the staging is sometimes clumsy, but just when you wonder how much life is left in these stereotypes, Allen pulls off a doozy of a dramatic switch which takes the farce to unexpected, dizzy heights. No! Don't speak! See it!
Cast and crew