Harry is the first to arrive at the theatre for rehearsal and promptly misplaces a central prop during a flippant account of Jake’s most recent film. Jake arrives on scene, discovers the mishap, and incites a hierarchical battle of wits between the men that is only appeased with the arrival of Roxanne (Sarah Boes), the feisty, no-nonsense stage manager.
Roxanne has her hands full with Laura the vacuous light operator, the fickle Bruce, and the money grubbing producers. With the discovery of Harry as the newly cast team member things only get worse for she and he have a history: a convoluted, unresolved history.
We are two weeks away from opening night and the actors are still working out the bugs. As understudy to an understudy it is highly unlikely that Harry will see the lights from centre stage but that doesn’t stop him from delving into the underbelly of the text.
As Harry digs deep, the personal plight of the performers is laid parallel to the complexities of the scenes they are rehearsing. As Kafka’s text filters through to their own lives it is here where they are awakened to a new understanding of what it means to be vulnerable, under valued, and powerless.
We never get to meet the volatile Bruce nor the colourful Laura but we see them as vividly as if they were standing before us and we know who they are and how they adversely affect the others.
The Understudy is nuanced in its observation of the business of show business and asks the audience to listen closely. It is humorously fresh in its calling to mind of popular scenarios, and poignant once it gets you there.
The Understudy runs at the PAL theatre until August 10, 2019. Click HERE for a link to tickets.