by Willard Manus
LOS ANGELES-- Ben Pleasants is a playwright with a decidedly literary
and political bent. In his previous work, THE HEMINGWAY/DOS PASSOS
WARS, which was a 1999 hit, he dealt with the ideological and personal
clash between novelists Hemingway and Dos Passos over the issue of
Stalin's betrayal of the Left during the Spanish Civil War.
Now Pleasants has
returned with a new drama, CONTENTIOUS MINDS: THE MARY McCARTHY/LILLIAN
HELLMAN AFFAIR, which also deals with the battle between two major writers
of opposite political views. McCarthy and Hellman are played by Jennifer
Gundy and Melissa Jones, respectively.
McCarthy also accused
Hellman of fabricating the supposedly true story
Hellman filed a $2.5
million defamation suit against Dick Cavett, The
is a play of ideas and while Pleasants certainly
What hurts the drama as well are the physical characteristics of the actors. Jones is big and strong, and plays Hellman as a virago. Gundy is much smaller and daintier: she is constantly overwhelmed by her loud-voiced opponent. It's like watching a bully beat up a shrimp--not much fun.
Director Denise Gillman
must be faulted for the play's miscasting and