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A CurtainUp Review
Something Intangible

By Marge Murray

Why don't you ever tell the truth?— Dale
Because my version is better.—tony
Something Intangible
Ian Merrill Peakes and Walter Charles
Bruce Graham's mostly engaging comedy about two Hollywood "players" and their cartoon dog, Petey Pup depicts the difference between lying and creating. Now in its world premiere at the Arden Theater, Something Intangible is loosely based on the Disney brothers and Mickey Mouse.

Despite the overworked device of revealing problems to a psychoanalys Bruce Graham's Tinseltown in the forties story is funny, entertaining and at times moving. The struggle between two brothers is told with nimble dialogue, a great deal of physicality, and enough name dropping (Greta Garbo to Rin Tin Tin and everyone in between) to satisfy even Walter Winchell in his heyday. Tony (Ian Merrill Peakes), the Walt Disney inspired character is a morally ambiguous genius. Brother Dale (Scott Greer) is a family-oriented dollars-and-sense accountant, the Roy of the duo who holds it all together. This balancing act, of volatile genius versus responsible manager is energetically directed by Terrence J. Nolen.

While Disney provides the narrative force, Something Intangible is actually about creating art, something hard to define on stage and that has been done better by others in both movies and theater. Still, Graham obviously knows his Hollywood and has created many high spots and much sparkling dialogue. Director Nolen teases the nuances of the play's characters, and the actors play off each other beautifully — one staid and somber, always in a business suit even on a Sunday; the other impetuous, and flamboyant, the contrast between visionary. James Kronze's realistic set helps to evoke the ambiance of old-world Hollywood. Mitch Dana artful lights the moves between Tony's office (which he virtually lives in) and that of the psychoanalyst to whom Dale tries to explain his brother to himself if not to her. The role of Sally Mercer, the psychoanalyst, is the weakest in the play, both structurally and as a character. Dr. Feld dman is almost tangential to the plot.

Th how one makes art theme is illustrated best at one point when Dale asks Tony why he makes things up, even recreating his problematic relationship with the brothers' father as more meaningful than it was. Tony tells him that he does it because he wants a better story — and therein we have the play's raison d'ëtre: how people recreate themselves.

Scott Greer portrays Dale with compassion, never giving up on trying to explain his brother's bossy ways and his many hates which include an aversion to" pansies, " Jews and anyone, not like him. (He even hates his most famous creation, Petey Pup). It falls to Ian Merrill Peakes' to give an animated performances and the unsympathetic but driven Tony. That drive focuses on his determination to create a feature-length animated film set to classical music, which he believes will establish his lasting legacy as more than a cartoonist it's left to Dale to figure out how to bring his dreams to fruition.

The very versatile Walter Charles, who breathes real theater into the play whenever he is on stage, plays both the flamboyant Gustav Von Meyerhoff, the great maestro, being used to orchestrate the new musical, and the banker who doles out the money. He almost steals the show from the two brothers. Dough Hara plays Leo Baxter, the man who ultimately brings Disney's ambitious work to life./

Despite its disappointing flaws, Something Intangible entertainingly brings home issues that people struggle with: how can I create a more richly textured life? And delves into family dynamics while asking the question, what does it mean to be creative— as both an artist and a person?

Something Intangible
Play by Bruce Graham
Directed by Terrence J. Nolen
Cast (alphabetical order):Scott Greer (Dale Wiston); Sally Mercer (Sonia Feldman); Ian Merrill Peakes (Tony Wiston); Walter Charles (Doc Bartelli/Gustav Von Meyerhoff); Doug Hara (Leo Baxter)
Set Design: James Kronzer
Costume Design: Rosemarie McKelvey
Lighting designer: Mitch Dana
Sound Designer: Jorge Cousineau
Stage Manager: Stephanie Cook
Assistant Director: Matt Rosenbaum
Dramaturg: Michele Volansky
Running time: 2 hours, with one intermission.
Arden Theatre Company, Arcadia Stage, 40 N. Second Street, Old City, Philadelphia 215-922-1122 or
April 9 through June 7.
Tickets: $29-$48
Reviewed by Marge Murray based on April 23 performance.
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