“Get in the truck!”

Please note:  This is a theater review of Theresa Rebeck’s new play The Understudy.

You do not have to have spent time in the fun-filled-factory of Hollywood to enjoy Theresa Rebeck’s new play, though it might help.  (She has, as a prolific writer with NYPD Blue, LA Law the much-beloved Brooklyn Bridge amongst her many television credits.)  You do not have to be a regular theater-goer to enjoy the play, though you might miss one particularly laugh-out-lous, stinging barb about mercury levels and actors.

Yup, I'm a douche.

You needn’t even particularly like the theater, frankly.  Because this is the most rarest of plays:  A well-constructed, tight, enjoyable, laugh-out-loud comedy.  It sadly closes this week, but other than, get a cheap ticket and go!

Stop reading this drivel and go!

I’m not terribly familiar with Rebeck’s prior plays, though I did once work on a terrific scene from her play Spike Heels in an LA acting workshop.  (As an unscrupulous, womanizing lawyer.  Great: typecasting.)  And I have read her terrifically entertaining writing memoir, Free Fire Zone. (I haven’t yet read her sole novel, Three Girls and Their Brother, though I mean to, for obvious reasons.)   But here, at the Roundabout intimate Laura Pels Theater, she has crafted a wicked, smart and funny three-character look into the world of theater, Hollywood, love, men and women.  The cast (the always-stellar Julie White, who an earns laughs with no dialogue; the apparently underrated Mark-Gosselaar, who more than holds his own as a Kafka-obessessed movie star; and the always-engaging Justin Kirk who, to me, almost steals the show) are uniformly excellent.  And superbly helmed by Scott Ellis (he of the remarkable and totally different 12 Angry Men revival) without an intermission, it’s the best time I’ve had at the theater in a while.  (Hear that, Sarah Ruhl?)  Plus, you’ll never view Kafka the same way.

Hello, you may enjoy my work as Robert Downey, Jr.

At $80 full price (I’ve seen ’em online as low as $45), it’s not going to rock your world or necessarily teach you much about life.  But it’s a solidly-crafted, laugh-out-loud play, and God knows we don’t get many of those.  And as for the title of this post?  The opening line of the play, and of the bullshit lines of dialogue screenwriters cook up for a silly movie-within-the-play.  And something you too will be shouting long after you’ve left the theater.

Older theater-goers don't see me this way.


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