Taming the Lion is a well-spent entertaining evening, the re-creation of a bygone, not always so glamorous Hollywood. (Actually, MGM was based in Culver City.) Accounts of salacious evenings Billie and Jimmie spend at the YMCA, or in drag clubs and back rooms of the era, or in hotel rooms with sailors, remind us that same-gender thrills and cross-dressing urges are hardly new.
Yet what is an author to do when the end is a foredrawn absence of suspense? Rushen tries to simulate the speech and mindsets of his characters, principally the antagonists Haines and Mayer, but his writing struck me as largely utilitarian and episodic. The many scene changes unnecessarily slowed down by recordings of contemporary songs keep the action from moving gamely ahead. It might have been more exciting pared down to an extended one-act format. Lost in all the exposition is a lyrical voice that might have probed a little more deeply into the psyches of these men and women, at the same time lifting them up and out of the prosaic to reveal the passions that set these people apart. Sadly, the stiffness of the writing is unavoidably reflected in the acting.