It’s rare that I see a comedy that makes me genuinely laugh out loud. But Seattle Public Theater’s latest production, “The Understudy,” had me laughing in my seat from the opening sequence to the final Kafka-esque two-step.
This production resonates because humor is often found lurking just beneath the surface of truth…even when that truth hurts. Although “The Understudy” is a work of fiction there’s plenty of truth in the absurdity of the situations on stage that will make you laugh – and cry.
Jake, an overblown Hollywood action movie star has what he thinks it takes to open a play (an undiscovered Kafka play at that) on Broadway. Harry, a strait laced actor is brought in as Jake’s understudy and wastes no time telling him just what a joke he thinks Broadway has become with its unending line of headlining (and talentless) Hollywood movie stars. At the center of it all, trying to hold everything together is Roxanne the stage manager (who is certainly not above bringing her own agenda to the Broadway production).
All three actors, Mike Dooly (Jake), Brenda Joyner (Rebecca) and John Ulman (Harry) are exceptional in their roles as they verbally - and mentally - joust with one another, trying to make sense of the “real world” pragmatism that creeps into their safe haven of the black box.
If you don’t think this ‘play within a play’ could possibly be based on some shreds of reality then check out the post-show discussion after the matinee performance on February 3. The Seattle Public Theater will bring in theater insiders (from casting agents to union reps) to give you the behind the scenes skinny on some of the absurdities that can take place in the universe of theater life.
“The Understudy” plays through February 17 at the Bathhouse Theater on Green Lake. Visit www.seattlepublictheater.org for showtimes and ticket information.