Theatre Review: River Stage's "Born Yesterday"

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(Sacramento, CA)
Sunday, October 23, 2005

Harry Brock is the classic self-made man. He can barely read, but he’s relentless when cutting a deal. And he doesn’t like compromises. He just buys whatever he needs . . . expert legal advice, women, United States senators to sponsor special legislation, whatever.

But Mr. Brock comes up against his match in Paul Verrall. He’s a noble journalist  in the old school sense, who doesn’t have a price, and doesn’t mess around.

Brock: What do you want to know?

Verrall: How much money have you got?

Brock: (sputters). What?

Verrall: How much money have you got?

Brock: How should I know? What am I, an accountant?

Verrall: You don’t know?

Brock: Not exactly.

Verrall: Fifty million?

Brock: I’m telling you the truth, I don’t know.

Verrall: Ten million?

Brock: Maybe.

Verrall: One million?

Brock: (incensed) More!

Verrall: How much.

Brock: Plenty! And I made every nickel of it. Nobody every gave me nothing.

Verrall: Nice work.

Brock: You’re going to give me the business, I can tell.

Verrall: Wait a minute.

Brock: No no no, go ahead, I like it.

Things get even more interesting when the owlish reporter, who loves Ancient Greek classics, falls into an unlikely romance with Brock’s good-hearted gin-drinking lady friend – who’s been artfully described as a cross between Eliza Doolittle and Betty Boop. She’s played by local actress Christine Nicholson, who’s sexy and shrill and basically tremendous in the part. This show is a beautiful reminder that in the good old days, there was a smart Broadway play behind many a Hollywood comedy – and they don’t make ‘em like this anymore, in Tinseltown, or New York. “Born Yesterday” is at River Stage on the Cosumnes River College campus through November 13.