|Matt Pfeiffer & Simon Kiley|
Ray Didinger can add one more notch in his belt of multiple successes…that of a successful playwright. Although having penned 11 books, three of them best sellers, Tommy and Me is Ray’s first foray into the world of playwriting. The autobiographical world premiere is presented by Theatre Exile and can be seen at FringeArts, 140 North Columbus Blvd. in Philadelphia. Didinger tells the story of his boyhood hero worship of Eagle’s wide receiver Tommy MacDonald. He uses a very clever technique to illustrate the extent of his hero worship (complete knowledge of all MacDonald’s stats) as a young boy to his involvement in MacDonald’s career as an adult. Two characters play Ray Didinger in this tale - Simon Kiley as young Ray and Matt Pfeiffer as the adult Ray. Both actors are frequently on the stage at the same time and feed off each other as in “Remember when…” Simon Kiley is a wildfire and loaded with personality. He is very young and has quite some time to perfect his craft, but he needs to speak less rapidly. During the first third of the play, his speech was so rapid that is was rendered practically unintelligible. When he finally slowed down, his performance was very good. Pfeiffer's performan was flawless. Ned Pryce had a small part as young Tommy and I found myself wishing that he had more lines. He is a very engaging young man and is sure to make a name for himself in the Philadelphia theatre scene. Tom Teti was very convincing as a mature and sincere Tommy MacDonald who had been passed over for the Hall of Fame by lesser players than himself. Thanks to Ray Didinger’s thirty years of steadfast dedication, the time finally came for inclusion. When the day of his induction came, Tommy refused to give an acceptance speech but, instead had ideas of his own. Thanks to the work of projection Designer Michael Long, the authenticity of Tommy’s performance was shown on the screen after Tom Teti performed it on stage. Tommy and Me is a fascinating peek into the lives of two men -a sports broadcaster and an ex-football player and the tremendous impact both of them had on each other’s lives.