By Kelly Luck
Much has been said about the process of writing: the struggles, the self-doubt, the painstaking process of finding just the right word in just the right place. And indeed, all of these things are true and valid aspects of the craft. But what they tend to leave out, and what writers generally keep to themselves, is that writing can make you crazy.
“Script to the Bone” gives us a case in point: Hannah (Danielle Swatzell), a debt-ridden Ph. D. who has taken on script doctoring to pay the bills. She gets a call at 4 in the morning from her producer to “tidy up” a chunk of script. And oh, such a script it is. This 17-page opening scene, written by an action movie star with no previous writing experience, is a real jaw-dropper of relentless awfulness. It needs proper pacing, it needs dialogue that would be spoken by human beings, it needs sentences longer than seven words, it needs coherence, and it needs to be done by noon, please, thanks. Hannah screams a bit, then grabs “Manny”, her mannequin mascot/co-writer/imaginary friend and sets to work. What follows is a relentlessly hilarious glimpse into how the sausage gets made.
First comes the time-honored Putting-Off Of The Actual Writing. It’s a well-known fact that you can’t write something unless you’ve spent at least fifteen minutes futzing around aimlessly first. That having been completed, she settles in, and reads the script out, gawping (along with the audience) at the inspired wretchedness of it all. Then the doctoring begins. She and “Manny” bounce ideas off of each other, and act out various scenes which are recorded for later use. As the producer calls again and again to make modifications to the already Byzantine Frankenscript, Hannah digs in, and plows ever deeper into the madness.
This is, as I have said, an extremely humorous play. Writers will find too much to laugh at here, to be sure, but the blessedly normal will no doubt get a kick out of it as well. This one seems to be flying under the radar a bit, but it is well worth checking out if you want a glimpse into the creative process, or just to see a genuinely funny and clever play. A critic’s schedule tends to be booked pretty solid during Fringe, but if I can make it back to this one again, I fully intend to. I recommend it without hesitation.