- Theresa Rebeck is back with another of her ingenious
scripts. Rebeck, a
successful playwright, has entertained and intrigued us before
with “Bad Dates” (the Milwaukee Rep) and “Mauritius”
(the Milwaukee Chamber Theatre).
delightful to encounter her again. Rebeck has the ability to
amuse us while also inserting some hefty meat into her
scripts, something to ponder.
Understudy” takes a look at many subjects - the art of
acting, the entertainment business, the difficulty of
balancing a career in performance with a personal life, the
conflicting opinions on how to interpret a given script, the
possible tech problems in a given production, the
competitiveness, the clash of egos, the vulnerabilities - all
are addressed by three professionals with a very live script
to work with.
Williams is excellent as Harry, the insecure understudy who
feels like nothing is going right for him at the moment.
Philip Sletteland as a very mercurial Jake who, among other
things, is torn between money and artistry. Cassandra Bissell
as the brittle, business-like stage manager Roxanne, who has a
lot more than missing props to deal with.
One of the
most interesting aspects of this show is that we see behind
the curtain, not only of the production they are rehearsing,
but also behind their own personal curtains. We see characters
and roles but the persons behind those roles.
We enjoy getting to know these three well-developed
characters by means of the artistry of three very impressive
supposedly preparing a production of Kafka, so there are kudos
and barbs sent his way. Who ever dreamed one could find
something to laugh at in Kafka? Apparently, Rebeck, with her
wry sense of humor.
and set designs by Jan Kellogg and Nathan Stuber are spot on.
The overall direction by Mallory Metoxen is also noteworthy.
Overall, a satisfying night at the theater, so much so that we
wanted to join the dancers at the end despite the
bittersweetness of their lives.
love the complications and joys of live theater, you’ll
treasure this one.
Understudy” runs through Feb. 9 in the Studio Theatre at the
Broadway Theater Center, 158 N. Broadway, Milwaukee. For show
times and tickets, call 414-291-7800 or visit www.R-T-W.com.