Next up at the Back Alley in 1983 was ARE YOU SURE? by Sam Bobrick. Sam was one of the 24 HOURS playwrights, a prolific TV writer, probably best known for “Saved by the Bell,” who wanted more than anything to be taken seriously as a playwright. His four shows with partner Ron Clark, most notably NORMAN, IS THAT YOU?, flopped on Broadway but cleaned up in stock (and played for 7 years at the Ebony Showcase Theatre here in LA). An uncredited gig doctoring THE WIZ, along with a fat contract at Warner Bros., allowed him to pursue his passion.
ARE YOU SURE?, described by the L.A. Weekly as a “clever and literate Rubik’s Cube,” had running references to works that included Jane Eyre, Crime and Punishment, Moby Dick, Heidi, Robin Hood, and the Oz books, as well as authors Norman Mailer and Pearl Buck.
Allan directed a great cast headed by the always awesome Lois Nettleton and Ronny Cox, fresh off his “Deliverance” banjo duel (and who is still performing as a musician in 2022 at the age of 84). In the ever-rotating scenarios of the play, “everyone got the spotlight as Jekyll, Hyde and the victim in distress sooner or later.”
Sam kept plugging away at playwriting almost right up to his death in 2019. In 2011 the Mystery Writers of America honored him with an Edgar Award for best play for “The Psychic,” which was performed at the Falcon Theater (now the Garry Marshall Theater) in Burbank in 2010. Sam liked to say, “If our plane goes down east of the Mississippi, we’re playwrights, but if it goes down west of the Mississippi, we’re gag writers.”
Sam wrote more than 40 plays in all. From the intro to the list on his website: “It’s not always easy getting produced and although I have been very lucky in that regard, I do have some plays that haven’t had that opportunity yet. But when your play does get produced, I promise you, you will never feel the highs that you will feel. It’s hearing the lines you’ve sweated over brought to life by gifted actors. It’s having a director who understands exactly what you want to say and has that same goal. It’s the loud applause the audience gives you at the end of the evening to further assure you how right you were in your choices. Of course, on the other hand, you will never feel such lows when all that doesn’t happen. Then it’s very important for you to be kept away from sharp objects.”