It's just another day in the life of an understudy in Amphibian Stage Production's hilarious production of THE UNDERSTUDY.
Theresa Rebeck's raucous comedy is a look at the rarely acknowledged role of the understudy in today's theater world as seen through the lens of a B-level film and stage actor and the man chosen to serve as his understudy. As the two meet and rehearse for the first time, they discover a lot about each other and not a little about how each of them got to where they are.
When Harry, played here in a brilliant turn by Chuck Huber, appears at the set and announces himself as the understudy for Jake (Carman Lacivita), both Jake and his irritable stage manager Roxanne (Sarah Koestner) are disappointed to say the least.
Jake can't imagine a man like Harry covering for him and Roxanne is shocked to see Harry after he nearly left her at the altar six years earlier. Although it's difficult, the three manage to struggle through rehearsal while absolving at least some of their frustration and remorse.
Huber plays Harry as bitter, yet playful and some of the best comedic spots involve Roxanne's frustration (derived from multiple places) with Harry's antics on stage. Lacivita portrays Jake as a stereotypical Hollywood actor but as the play goes on and he learns more about Harry, his initial disdain evolves into what appears to be amusement and eventually, respect.
Through the interaction between The Players and Harry's monologues, the audience gains some understanding of how people in show business, according to Rebeck, function.
Rebeck seems to be delivering her two cents on the unpredictable world of show business and its failure to follow any set of rules society would expect. Why are shows successful? Why do people pay so much to see celebrities? Why can't art and success happen together?
When Jake offers to help Harry find a job, recognizing his talent, Harry declines, thinking the roles Jake - the action film star - would be aware of or would accept are "below him." Despite Harry's bitterness at his lot, he seems to be holding out for something else.
His inability to accept a job unless it matches his ideal may explain why Harry is the understudy and Jake is the star. Maybe sometimes to be successful, both in theater and the world at large, you have to accept reality, whether you like it or not. It is, after all, reality.
Amphibian Stage Productions' THE UNDERSTUDY runs through August 5 at the Fort Worth Community Arts Center. Tickets are available online or by calling 817-923-3012.