Comedian Ron White ambles out on stage, never afraid to reflect on his exploits in his searing style. Especially well-known for the time he was thrown out of a New York bar (“They didn’t ask me to leave. We didn’t walk together to the door.”), and then being reminded of an alias he gave a cop when he was 17 (“They call me…..tater salad.”), he’s definitely not ashamed of who he was and is. The same probably stands for John Pinette, who makes his large girth part of his act, distraught in a recording of one of his performances on XM Satellite Radio, where he deliriously lamented the major meat recall that happened some time back (“Who f****d with the meat?”). Whether these men feel differently off the stage is something that can only be known in our imaginations, but “The Act”, starring Deborah Jo Rupp of “That ‘70s Show” goes straight into that matter and comes up with not only an astoundingly moving portrayal, but questions for us to consider about our own lives.
Rupp is Rosy Marconi, performing at the “Ha Ha Hut”, relieved to her audience about her recent divorce and ranting about her ex-husband. Marconi follows a long line of comedians who find the jokes in their daily lives that other people will laugh at because they recognize themselves. Parallel action in “The Act” reveals a different side of Rosy, with the true life that she actually leads, unexpected but emotionally understood. She needs to survive like every other person in every single city, working night and day. And she does what she can to make her life work. What results in “The Act” can only be seen to be felt. Words do not do it right here, except to note that Deborah Jo Rupp can be a fine actress if given the proper chance. Following the line of comedic performers who have turned to drama occasionally, she’s a miracle here, exhibiting skills that you wouldn’t know otherwise.
The incisiveness of director/writers Susan Kraker and Pi Ware (who need more work by the way. Someone fund them permanently!), also leads to a theme relevant to all of us: How often do we “act” in our daily lives? When are we putting on a show like Rosy, and deflecting people away from our real selves? Whether it is worth doing that or not remains solely with the person doing the acting, but it’s an important issue to consider, in how true we are to ourselves with others. “The Act” goes beyond the realm of short films. It stands tall with the finest indie dramas, shoulder to prestigious shoulder.