Oliver Cotton is a classically trained actor who has worked with the most illustrious theater companies in Britain. Cotton's chatty, meandering "Wet Weather Cover," at the Tiffany, is an intensely actorly piece, full of insider jokes and hefty monologues, that serves more as a showcase than a legitimate play.
The action transpires entirely in a rundown trailer--beautifully realized in Sharon Rubin's cheesy and claustrophobic set--moored at the base of a mountain in central Spain, where a low-budget costume epic is filming. Brad (Richard Zavaglia), a loud-mouthed, volatile American, and Stuart (Ian Ogilvy), a genteel and sardonic Englishman, are actors in the film, stranded in the trailer during a long rain delay. Under John Gidcomb's appropriately broad direction, the two banter, bicker, get plastered, erupt in violence and ultimately reconcile their differences, just as good countries--oops, make that characters--should.
Stuart, the Brit, soon emerges as the champion of artistic refinement, while Brad, the prototypal ugly American, shapes up as an exponent of Hollywood commercialism and cultural decline. Oh, Cotton tries to ameliorate Brad's flagrant boorishness by making him a Shakespearean savant--but Brad and Stuart are essentially the Oscar and Felix of dialectical exchanges, a slob and a snob locked in a lengthy and wearying diatribe.
Although Zavaglia has his moments, he's occasionally heavy-handed in an overwritten role. It is Ogilvy, a paragon of suavity and casual British charm, who finesses the meager hand he's dealt--and steals the show.
* "Wet Weather Cover," Tiffany Theater, 8532 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood. Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Dark this Sunday. Ends Aug. 1. $21-$26. (310) 289-2999. Running time: 2 hours, 10 minutes.