ebbe roe smith

Ebbe Roe Smith and Casey McFeron in "Day of the Docent" at CoHo/Photo: Gary Norman

Ebbe Roe Smith is an actor, a playwright and a Hollywood screenwriter. His biggest movie was his first, “Falling Down,” with Michael Douglas as a rampaging father/ex-husband/middle manager, which sussed out America’s subterranean “Angry White Man” current and brought it to the cineplex everywhere. I’d blame Smith for the erosion of American politics into a bitter rear-guard action by American men protecting their privileges from everybody else, but that would be shooting the messenger. How being a bitter American man has come to involve denying climate change and the usefulness of Darwin in modern biology is a subject for an entirely different bit of writing.

“Falling Down,” as directed by Joel Schumacher wasn’t intentionally funny, though played a little bit differently, it could have been hilarious, with Douglas and his flat-top, thick glasses and brief case. It’s easy to imagine the scene with the surly road crew that doesn’t seem to be doing anything except disrupting traffic flow, a common enough occurrence in modern life, played for laughs. Douglas pulls out a rocket launcher, gets some tips on its operation from a passing kid and blows up the construction site. That’s funny, in a bleak way, and I’m sure most audiences laughed, but the overall tone was “dramatic.”

Anyway, I guess I think of Smith as a humorist, a keen observer of American life with an equally sharp wit, both as a writer and an actor, which is why I re-make “Falling Down” as a comedy in my head. His turn as Roy Cohn in Portland Playhouse’s “Angels in America”  earlier this theater season was perfect for him, because it was funny in the way he’s funny — raw, off-color, with a sardonic view of human desires, including his own.

All of which is just to arrive at his most recent project, “Day of the Docent,” for CoHo Productions, which is an undeniably comic three-hander that stars Smith himself, Casey McFeron and Laura Fay Smith, and which includes a glancing send-up of “Falling Down” as it reduces Hollywood scriptwriting to an applications of specious rules of various sorts to dim plots intended to amuse dim audiences.


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