Mistakes Were Made, an Exquisite Piece of Comic Writing
By Judy Newell
Mistakes Were Made, opening March 2 at the San Miguel Playhouse, is a high-energy romp through a theater producer’s day of comic madness. If it could go wrong for Felix Artifex, then this was the day for it.
Mick Diener plays a down-on-his-luck Broadway producer, Felix Artifex, holed up in his dingy office working the phone lines one long, tense afternoon as he tries to keep the biggest deal of his career from falling apart.
Written by Craig Wright and directed by Jim Newell, the play follows a day in Felix’s life as he attempts to produce Mistakes Were Made, a gargantuan epic about the French Revolution. Felix thinks it is going to be his ticket to professional and personal redemption. If Felix can pull it all together, maybe things will just work out.
The play opens with Felix attempting to finalize a deal with hot, young movie star Johnny Bledsoe. In Felix’s mind, if he can sign the mega-star to the Broadway play, then the play’s success is virtually guaranteed.
Things go wrong when the playwright proves unresponsive to Johnny’s suggestion to rewrite the play around a new character for him. There are a few other “minor” hurdles to overcome, such as financing the project. The problems, like a pressure cooker, slowly begin to mount as Felix attempts to put out one fire after another.
The phone lines light up with calls from abroad. Felix’s financial partner has gotten them involved in a shady scheme for the trafficking of sheep on foreign shores. The drivers of 10 trucks of sheep are being held hostage by flame-throwing terrorists, and Felix somehow must seal a deal for their release, too.
Can Felix get the actor, get the financing, and finish the production, or will the house of cards all come crashing down around him?
His scene partners for most of the play are his telephone, his cup of coffee, and his only confidante, an obese goldfish named Denise. With only these and the occasional assist from a mostly offstage secretary (Phoebe Greyson), Diener creates a collapsible farce with no doors, no exits.
“No, I am not mentally ill,” Felix corrects a caller. “I am imaginative, hopeful, and driven.” He then proceeds to riff on the fly a happy ending for the French Revolution.
The play was crowned Best Play of the Year by both TIME and New York magazines. “Mistakes Were Made is 90 furious, fulminating, very funny minutes of American hucksterism in extremis,” said New York magazine.
The compact gem of philosophy and funny business was written by Craig Wright, the Emmy-nominated television writer of Six Feet Under and Lost. He was the creator of the TV show Dirty Sexy Money, the screenwriter for the movie Mr. Peabody & Sherman, and the award-winning playwright of Lady, Grace, and The Pavilion.
Mistakes Were Made will be performed Wednesday, March 2, through Sunday, March 6, at 7:30pm, with matinees Thursday and Sunday at 3pm at The San Miguel Playhouse, Av. Independencia 82.
Tickets, which are 200 pesos, are available at Galería Ensueños, on the corner of Mesones and Reloj, from 10am until 2pm, Monday through Saturday. They can also be purchased at the door one hour prior to show time. There is free, secure parking and a taxi concierge service.