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Theatre Review: “The Understudy,” At The Wilma

(Photo provided)

(Photo provided)

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Wilma Theater has unveiled a new work by a recently acclaimed playwright, introducing her first work in Philadelphia.

And her new play, “The Understudy,” should find an appreciative audience.

Theresa Rebeck is on record telling us she adores the laughter of audiences — which certainly will work for her in “The Understudy,” a three-character work in which Hollywood and Broadway-based actors mix it up for about an hour and a half of knockabout nonsense.

The plot includes a female stage manager setting up for a recently discovered play by the legendary Franz Kafka.

This is a far cry from the type of drama we’re used to at the Wilma.  We’ve got shifting sounds, lights, and temperaments grabbing the audience with almost every face-off.

While there’s no end of nonsense, frequently bordering on silliness, we might say our trio of actors — Jenn Harris, Cody Nickell, and Brad Coolidge — push matters to frequently hilarious excess.

No question: “The Understudy” finds its mark and our playwright drowns in an appreciative audience.

“The Understudy” is expected to run through January 30th at the Wilma Theater, Broad and Spruce Streets, in center city.

Reviewed by Bob Nelson, KYW Newsradio 1060.