Evan Wyler, a young gay writer with a breakout debut novel, has just appeared shirtless in a magazine to sell his much-discussed book, and with that, he’s become the next “hot, young thing." He’s willing to do anything to hopefully climb to success-- to change his name from one that sounds too Jewish, to meet with whoever will give him the right kind of attention, and yes, to use his potential sex appeal to sell some copies. It is in this boisterous naivete that Evan meets the outrageously fashionable and despicably wealthy Alexa Vere de Vere, a socialite with seemingly every connection in the book, who wants Evan to write the screenplay for her autobiographical film. He follows her into life for a few days as she styles him into a man of a dignified appeal much like her own and pays Evan’s way through a whirlwind tour of starlets and producers, the A-listers and those about to become them. All the while, though, Evan is struggling to grasp the story between the myriad of biographical tidbits she’s thrown at him. In his search for more truth, he finds Alexa’s vulnerabilities, and the two begin what looks to be a beautiful romantic relationship. But suddenly, she disappears, and with her she takes Evan’s dignity. Even worse, Evan realizes that the money never changed hands in the way he thought it did, and Alexa has conned him out of tens of thousands of dollars and run. He’s the one who’s been footing the bills for their falsified romp through the world of the elite and famous. Evan becomes obsessed with untangling her identity, first by tracking down her other victims and finally by finding his way to the husband she claimed killed himself, still alive, and a peaceful painter in the woods. Mike, the artist, tells Evan how he, many long years ago, was partially responsible the creation of Alexa as she exists today, and it is with this newfound knowledge in her complete ordinariness that Evan decides it’s time for a reckoning. Whether he can outsmart a con artist to her own demise is anyone’s guess in this larger than life satirical fable on identity in fame and stardom and the people who gladly assume a persona built entirely on lies if it means being known for something. The play’s title, As Bees in Honey Drown, alludes to a motto Alexa teaches Evan, and it also serves to thematically summarize the show, “humanity gasping for air under the weight of its own culture.” In this raucously dark comedy by Douglas Carter Beane, the characters, almost all double-cast as various pawns in the larger story, serve as cautionary tales for the way fame and fortune can rip a simpler mind asunder with egomaniacal ideas of happiness and survival.
As Bees in Honey Drown guide sections