The cast of the MPD Artistic Collective production of Neil Labute's The Money Shot.
The cast of the MPD Artistic Collective production of Neil Labute's The Money Shot.

In Neil Labute’s Hollywood satire, The Money Shot, two aging stars gather their significant others to discuss a controversial scene in their upcoming movie. To get there though, the four must first engage in a ridiculously long-winded and repetitively vapid skewering of Tinseltown stereotypes.

In Labute’s Hollywood, those involved in the industry are not the brightest bulbs and entirely self-obsessed. This is nothing new, with these age-old stereotypes having been around since the existence of movies. And while it may be fun to laugh at the hubris and vacuous nature of movie stars, in The Money Shot there is little else. The result is a largely one-note tirade, that quickly becomes tedious.

There are fleeting moments that go beyond, but these are the exception. One particularly funny moment comes from the recreation of a scene from Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, set to music by Shakira, and performed as an interpretive dance. And some of Labute’s non-sequiturs also land.

To help make The Money Shot work (although there is an argument that there is nothing worth saving here) requires a spitfire execution from its four actors. In this MPD Artistic Collective production, the exchanges become almost contemplative, giving a sense of importance to the material, far greater than it deserves. On opening night, the pacing was so off, the performance went well-beyond its intended 90-minutes.

Also problematic, at least from my vantage point, were sightlines. With half of the action taking place on a low couch stage left, it was all but impossible to see. This is particularly frustrating in a show that should be (one assumes) as much about the reaction.

Stylistically, the acting is all over the map. Sometimes there was truth, but most often the actors devolved into caricatures. For a satire to effectively work it must be based in some reality, but there is little reality here for the actors to work with. One can only assume the quartet onstage looked to variety in their performances to counter the tedium in Labute’s writing.

The Money Shot is not among Mr Labute’s better works. Perhaps it may play better for those more intimately part of the world it attempts to satirize. For the rest of us though, there is little to sustain our interest.

The Money Shot by Neil Labute. Directed by David C Jones. An MPD Artistic Collective production. On stage at Studio 1398 on Granville Island until May 6. Tickets are available online at Brown Paper Tickets.