In his beloved New York City, jaded, gay, alcoholic, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Joseph Harris (Jeff Daniels) is a shadow of his former legendary self. “You’re a dinosaur,” one of his confidants tells him, point blank, before he boards a train for a small town in Michigan to mount his new work, a play he may or may not have even written. Upon arriving, Joseph meets his driver Kenneth (Thomas Macias), an aspiring young writer, full of hope and eager to please, whose rose-colored perspective is challenged by his embittered hero’s sage but gloomy outlook.
Over the course of a snowy Christmastime evening, the two generations face off, trading no shortage of barbed dialogue while challenging each other’s views on art and life. Leanly adapted from his own 2006 play, Daniels gives a soulful performance as the cynical playwright, combining the acerbic deadpan wit and melodical verbosity of his most iconic roles. Elegantly directed by Timothy Busfield, Guest Artist is a razor sharp and unexpectedly moving ode to art, friendship, and the weight of words.
— JESSE KNIGHT
San Francisco Symphony