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Still drunk on “Sideways”

Buzz for the better-than-the-movie play

By Erin Meanley

Still drunk on

Still drunk on “Sideways”

Photo by Kevin Berne

On Sunday, I attended opening night of Sideways at La Jolla Playhouse (read a Q & A with the author and UCSD alum Rex Pickett here). The play was based on the novel that became a 2004 movie starring Paul Giamatti, Thomas Hayden Church, and Sandra Oh.

For those who haven’t seen the movie (full disclosure: I had only seen a few clips), the story follows two old friends on a bachelor party-wine tour week from Santa Monica to Paso Robles. Miles (Patrick Breen) is a depressive, failed writer/divorcee/oenophile and Jack (Sean Allan Krill) is his TV-directing, commitmentphobe buddy (he’s the one getting married).

All four leads were outstanding (Breen, Krill, and Zoe Chao as Terra and Nadia Bowers as Maya), as well as Cynthia Mace, who plays Miles’s mother.

The fast-paced dialogue is an intoxicating mix of smart wine talk, literary references, funny one-liners, and outrageous pick-up lines.

My dad (my date for the night) said the play had more depth than the movie, and that the play was indeed superior to the film. (I’m guessing Director Emeritus Des McAnuff sprinkled some of his magic on the script.) My dad was also excited that he had been to some of the actual wineries visited by the characters.

Things took a slight left turn with a wild boar-hunting scene. I could have done without it—especially because it would have cut down the 2.5-hour run time, but other than that, Sideways was quite impressive.

A warning: If you’re a sensitive theatergoer (Mom), this play contains a lot of F-bombs, a little nudity, some loud lovemaking noises, and lines like, “This wine is tighter than my high school girlfriend.” And if you’re a teetotaler, well, the actors poured and imbibed so many glasses onstage, I practically sprinted in my 5-inch heels to the concession stand at intermission for a pinot noir.

All told, it was the best show I’ve seen at the Playhouse in the last few years. Better than Chaplin, Sleeping Beauty Wakes, Little Miss Sunshine, Glengarry Glen Ross, Hands on a Hardbody…even His Girl Friday, dare I say it. Maybe even better than the Des McAnuff-directed Jesus Christ Superstar. Sideways should go to Broadway and I hope it does.

Make sure to get tickets before the final performance on August 25.

Sheila and Hughes Potiker Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse

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