If Staged was a movie, we've come to the latter part of Act 2 where our heroes David Tennant and Michael Sheen have hit rock bottom in their foundering friendship. They've stopped talking to each other, but they left their zoom calls on to show each other how mad they are at each other and are sulking about this. This does not sit well with their wives, because Georgia (Georgia Tennant) and Anna (Anna Lundberg) are sane. They don't have time for this crap.
David has to help Jim Parsons read for Michael, but he's not even pretending anymore. He immediately turns it into a therapy session with Jim not realizing he's the shrink when he asks questions about how to play Michael. Jim is actually gentle and insightful as he probes David about his original sin in the first series, the point where David lied to Michael because he was afraid of confrontation and planted the seeds for every bit of hostility leading up to this point. David isn't hearing any of it as he just wants to vent and sulk. And that's another actor they've driven off the US remake.
Now it's Georgia's turn to talk to Simon. Once again, men have to drive women to the limits of their capacity to forgive and tolerate their bullshit. Georgia has had it with the three of them. She reads him the riot act. It's his fault for abandoning David and Michael and leaving it to her and Anna to pick up the pieces. She orders him to fix it. Simon demurs, but when has Simon ever fixed anything? Michael and David only end up using Simon to passive-aggressively attack each other, each claiming they're just conveying what the other actors think should be done to the other. Simon, ever the coward, is too useless and scared to solve the problem. He's too weak and gets sucked into their dysfunctional vortex.
It's down to Josh Gad to read for David to Michael next. A strangely, shockingly clinical and creepy Josh Gad. Is he using some kind of Neurolinguistic Programming mind control Svengali-type shit on Michael? Because it's working. He has Michael in the palm of his hand as he draws Michael's innermost feelings and rage towards David for his endless whining while everyone is losing it under lockdown. Because, wow, Michael launches into an epic rant of Oscar-winning proportions as he lets it all out, his exasperation at David's petty whinging, his own yearning for human contact denied by the Pandemic, his desperation for connection, it's King Lear raging against the storm. All under the hands of Josh Gad. Bet you didn't think Olaf had it in him, did you? Gosh Gad is scary, yo. He could start a cult like Charles Manson did if he wanted to. How do we know he hasn't started? That's the thing when you start inappropriately using actors as your unofficial therapist – you don't know who's going to force a breakthrough out of you.
Here are actors forced into an endless existential hell. It ain't pretty. This is what really being trapped in Waiting for Godot feels like, the dark circles under the eyes as they made that thousand-yard stare into the abyss. They admit everything now, all the boredom that drove them to meanness, the loss of empathy, the loss of feeling with only their own rage to use as a weapon against the darkness. And yes, existential despair, when done right, can be funny!
Staged is really Science Fiction. It takes place in an alternate comedy universe where actors are really weird. It's also an alternate universe where Sheen isn't playing a Hannibal Lecter knock-off on the FOX show Prodigal Son and thus gets to leave the house and travel to New York to work. Meta hall of mirrors, everyone!