EXCERPTS FROM THE REVIEW
The following are excerpts from the September 4, 2014 Baltimore Sun Review of The Understudy by Tim Smith
Everyman manages to give "The Understudy" quite a boost, thanks to a beautifully matched, finely tuned cast directed with considerable flair by Joseph W. Ritsch. Above all, the staging underlines Rebeck's affectionate homage to the whole world of theater -- the people, the anxieties and neuroses, the drudgery, the wonder.
As Harry, Clinton Brandhagen is a natural. No one in this town does the dazed look better than he does. And, from the moment he walks out, a scarf wrapped thickly around his neck like a life preserver, Brandhagen's Harry is delectably at sea in this world of egos and Kafka. The actor also brings out Harry's fundamentally endearing nature.
Danny Gavigan charges into the role of Jake and fleshes it out with many a deft detail. The nervous energy, the competitive edge, the touch of vulnerability -- all emerge tellingly. Gavigan is particularly persuasive conveying Jake's enthusiasm for delving into the complexities of Kafka, even while fretting over his next movie deal.
Beth Hylton makes it easy to feel the weight of all the bitter baggage the harried Roxanne carries around, along with the harried woman's nagging needs. Roxanne gets the most emotional material in the play and Hylton makes much of it without overdoing anything. She also has know how to give the comic side a good kick.
All three actors, for that matter, shine in the play's funny bits (some of those bits may be a little too inside-theater or inside-Kafka for some folks). They slip just as effortlessly into scenes aiming for something serious, reaching a particular high in the rather sweet, closing moments that give "The Understudy" an unlikely touch of magic.
Everyman's resident set designer Daniel Ettinger has conjured up terrific scenery that oozes German Expressionist angst for this stage business. Almost makes you wish there really was a Kafka play.