'I'll Eat you Last'

Deborah Joves stars in a new production by Coastal Repertory Theatre. Photo courtesy Gail Erwin

Coastal Repertory Theatre in Half Moon Bay is bringing back live shows to the Coastside with a series of outdoor performances of “I’ll Eat You Last: A Chat with Sue Mengers” this week.

Written by John Logan in 2013, the one-act play stars Deborah Joves, of Pacifica. She stars as Sue Mengers, a prominent Hollywood agent in the 1980s. The show runs just over an hour and puts Mengers in her Beverly Hills home while sharing funny stories and hard lessons from her days with notable clients, who include Michael Caine, Gene Hackman, Barbara Streisand and Ali McGraw.

Attendees are required to wear masks, bring their own chairs and sit in assigned spaces. Tickets are available at coastalrep.com. It’s $20 for adults and $15 for seniors and students. The nine shows will be at 7 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings from April 9 through April 25 in the parking lot behind the theater. April 16, 17 and 24 are already sold out.

Director Paul Smith said Mengers was in a unique position as a talent agent during her era. The late talent agent was described as assertive, charismatic, raunchy and ruthless.

Joves, who also did Coastal Rep’s outdoor production “Sorry, Wrong Number” in October, said it felt good to be doing theater again after all the time away from the stage. She’s been involved with Coastal Rep for roughly 15 years. However, she admitted when Smith asked her to play Mengers in her first-ever solo show, she was honored but apprehensive.

As Smith explained, once the show begins, it’s all on Joves to bring out the character. There is no interaction with other cast members, no back-and-forth dialogue. Plus, accurately depicting Mengers, who Joves said became more and more fascinating after researching, was a daunting prospect.

“What chutzpah,” Joves said of Mengers. “If I had half the courage she had to just take a leap and do something that terrifies me, that’s great. And that’s what she did.”

Like the person she portrays, Joves took the challenge in stride. She chose to immerse herself as Mengers to retain the audience’s attention for the duration of the show. Smith noted how much detail Joves puts into recreating Mengers’ stories, from the elaborate setup to the knee-slapping punchline.

“It’s just exquisite the way she does it,” he said. 

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