EXCERPTS FROM THE REVIEW
The following are excerpts from the September 1, 2014 MD Theatre Guide Review of The Understudy by April Forrer
The Understudy at Everyman Theatre begins as a seemingly simplistic comedy about the trials of being an underpaid and underused actor, but as the play continues, comedy becomes a lesson in profound, stark truths. Written by Theresa Rebeck and directed by Joseph W. Ritsch, The Understudy delves into relationships between people and people’s relationship with their art.
The three-person cast has a wonderful chemistry that brings an immediate comfort to the audience – we are watching an intimate exchange, but the actors effortlessly let us in. Clinton Brandhagen is Harry, the struggling actor who is hired to be the understudy for Jake (played by Danny Gavigan) an action movie star with an opening movie weekend netting almost $70 million. Roxanne (played by Beth Hylton) is the stage manager in charge of directing the understudy rehearsal. The play within the play that they are rehearsing is supposed to be a long lost Franz Kafka story based on parts of his well-known works Metamorphosis, The Trialand The Castle.
"The three-person cast has a wonderful chemistry that brings an immediate comfort to the audience…"
The sets, designed by Daniel Ettinger, are just what one would expect for an over-the-top production of Kafka on Broadway: a tall fireplace chimney stacked high with human skulls, a room with the backdrop of file cabinets as far as the eye can see and a large picture window with a castle in the distance with gloomy clouds floating by. Each new set, arriving at the wrong times – thanks to a probably stoned Laura – carried with it hearty laughs from the audience.
The Understudy does journey through some serious themes, but Everyman’s production delivers enough laughs and enjoyment watching these exceptionally talented actors work through their characters’ issues that it is totally worth the trip.