THE FINAL SCENE is worth seeing

THE FINAL SCENE written and directed by Gene Abravaya. Spreckels and WildeCard Productions, Thick House, 1695 18th Street, San Francisco. Tickets at:

August 10 – September 4, 2011


Two years ago the Pacific Alliance Stage Company produced Gene Abravaya’s well received first full length play The Book of Matthew that reflected his experience in television as a writer on the soap opera As the World Turns. His latest opus dips back into those days in New York and he has come up with a highly entertaining The Final Scene being given a lively performance at the intimate Thick House. For that first play he had a top-notch cast and Hector Correa as director. Again he has a superb acting group but has elected to be the director while taking a small role in the cast. One wonders if his decision to direct is wise one.

The reason one might suggest another director is that the writer, being too familiar with his characters, denies himself the benefit of external input and/or variation in tone. It would have been informative to have seen the world premiere at the Sixth Street Theatre as directed by Tim Kiffen who had a starring role in The Book of Matthew. The play’s present incarnation is best described as a satirical comedy with equal parts of farcical slapstick and confused purpose.

The play’s construction is non-linear although the action takes place in one day in the filming of the final episode of soap opera The Promising Dawn that has seen better ratings. The decision has been made by the Corporate Level to bolster those ratings by killing off its haughty star actress Gretchen Manning (Jennifer Weil) in the final scene. Gretchen keeps finding ways to delay her on camera killing that is further complicated by her not too bright co-star Jeremy Slade’s (Nick Solley) outrageous behavior. Involved in the action is the stressed-out executive producer Joseph Witmore (Michael Ray Wisely), his protégé Allison (Rebekah Patti) with enough drive for success to satisfy a plethora of women attempting to climb the corporate ladder. The remainder of the cast includes the stage crew and a cameo appearance of Jeremy’s agent Milton Medthorne (Harry Duke).

A documentary crew is filming the life of Gretchen through interviews with those who have worked with her. Between interviews we move back and forth to the taping of the final scene that is absolutely hysterical with Nick Solley matching Jennifer Weil laugh for laugh with farcical slapstick and verbal jabs. First up is Joseph. His praise of Gretchen is ambivalent and forthright and he is the stabling factor in the filming of the final scene. Wisely adds dignity to that role and emanates believably true compassion. His speeches bookend the play.

Freddie Lambert as Richie the ex-con given a job by Gretchen get a spontaneous round of applause in a dynamic display when it is his time to face the documentary camera. Eric Burke playing Boseman, a camera man rescued from anonymity by Gretchen, gives heart rending speech, with cheers accompanying the applause. Rebekah Patti makes Allison a true unlikeable Machiavellian in her quest for the gold ring succeeding at all costs to reach her goals. The physical appearance of Harry Duke playing Jeremy Slade’s agent and the line “Do you play basketball?” becomes a stale joke.

There is some very fine writing and revealing insight into good and bad human behavior throughout the play and a glimpse into the world creating TV soap operas but there are too many loose ends that need wrapping up. However, the fine cast and Paul Gilger’s excellent set create an enjoyable evening.

Kedar K. Adour, MD

Courtesy of