Friday, January 01, 2010

1. The Understudy

Photo/Sara Krulwich

Underwhelming. Theresa Rebeck satirizes the profound "art" of theater by creating something that is far from profound, and in which her actors--Justin Kirk, Julie White, and Mark-Paul Gosselar--can basically play themselves. It's tongue-in-cheek because it uses a rehearsal for an "undiscovered" Kafka play to represents the Kafkaesque nature of being the understudy of an understudy in a world in which audiences won't see shows unless there are stars in it. And though it's hard to resist Kirk's passionate appeal for just doing the work, or Gosselar's discovery that performance can be deeper than a line reading, the readiness is not all. Unless you're trying to be artificial, and White's about the only person who makes that whip-snappingly worthwhile.

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