The TomKat Project follows Soho Rep’s A Public Reading…About the Death of Walt Disney in genre-bending plays about celebrities and their cultural legacies, but that’s about all that the two share in common. Besides the fact that Disney reads like a screenplay (camera directions and all) and TomKat doesn’t, Disney couldn’t care less about the truthfulness of its dialogue. TomKat, on the other hand, provides has an overwhelming mission to ‘get it right,’ to portray its two title characters with as much sensitivity and thoughtfulness as possible, of seeing this pop culture epic from different points of view, and differentiating what parts of its dialogue are taken verbatim from real sources and what parts are fanciful conjecturing. In fact, the playwright is himself a character and dominates much of the second act to express his worries about taking on the project.
Besides this interruption, however, TomKat is hilarious and energetic. I love its documentarian blend of fiction and non-fiction because it allows the play to pick an appropriate form for what it wants to do, even if it’s entirely different from what was presented five minutes. Its pop culture subject also means that mostly everyone in the audience has a working knowledge of the events before the play so that we don’t need to waste time getting everyone on the same page.
The real TomKat’s story is fascinating. If you haven’t read up on Katie’s and Tom’s past, or on Scientology vast influence on Tom’s career, TomKat fills you in. Even though some of the ‘facts’ are only based on hearsay or theories, there’s a solid record for a lot of TomKat’s Scientology scandals. Hell, there’s enough even in verbatim interview excerpts (like the Tom’s sit-downs with Oprah, Matt Lauer, and Der Spiegel) to make your jaw drop.
With all its buzz, you’ll be seeing TomKat around in future incarnations.