She eventually took over Zsa Zsa Gabor’s L.A. mansion, a descent ceiling for an Hollywood talent agent from upstate New York. She transplanted to the Bronx after a her dad’s suicide, which she now sees as cliche through her jaded and glassy veneer smudged from years of swimming in the movie biz’s soupy waters. Her proudest score was Barbra Streisand, who she met in her early expeditions into NYC’s hungry belly looking for fame.
In her silk caftan robe, Sue Mengers flippantly credits Halston with the axiom “if you don’t have something bad to say about someone, just sit next to me.” We find out dishing dirt on the major Hollywood players was not just her favorite past time, but an priceless skill in the post-golden film era.
She’s flamboyant, dramatic and damn near maniacally crude. In a snobbish, in-crowd kind of way, Mengers gabs bombastic references to a few dozen famous movies and the actors in her fold when she had the hot hand. Despite her mettle, we catch her when her luck ran out twice as quick as it took to make. She recants old glories, while awaiting a call from Streisand that may never come.
Sue talks a blue streak about getting Gene Hackman the lead in the French Connection over an A- to C-list of actors including Paul Newman, a washed up Jackie Gleason and Charles Bronson. Of how she got Faye Dunaway Chinatown. And how she got Streisand many successful projects, although Streisand was known to turn down gimmes like Cabaret for inexplicable movies like The Main Event (which by the way Sue likened to cross-dressing).
Doing it for the sake of the deal, when Sue finally got Streisand to take a movie she didn’t want, All Night Long, it bombed. A bad project turned into a scandalous Hollywood gossip feeding frenzy, now Richard Dreyfus won’t even come to Sue’s parties, announcing his absence by surprise telephone RSVP. It was the last of Sue as Streisand’s agent. Delightfully insufferable, by the time she’s done with us Sue makes it worth our while, bestowing us with her sacred five rules of being a successful agent that ironically betrayed her in the end.
Film/Theater Buff Crack
I’ll Eat You Last, written by John Logan and directed by Eric Welch, pays tribute to Sue Mengers’s personality and escapades with shticks, healthy sprinkles of potty mouth, and snooty sarcasm packed into a juicy one-sided conversation. Thoroughly entertaining, Marcee Doherty-Elst delivers the monologue like a running faucet, dressed in aforementioned caftan, starch straight middle-parted blonde hair, oversized gaudy 70’s eyeglasses, and wicked horrifying makeup-job jabbing at Mengers’s heyday.
I’ll Eat You Last was co-produced by recently launched Untitled Productions and Theater RED and has one more curtain at the Kimpton Journeyman on Chicago Street in the Third Ward at 3:00p this afternoon. It’s hot, why not daydrink in fashion and in a/c before you hit the rest of your summer fun.
The production crew that brought I’ll Eat You Last to stage deserve hi-fives, Antishadows (lighting design), Joe Picchetti (props design), Allison Kasprovich (stage manager).