Originally a smash Off-Broadway hit, the UK premiere of Pulitzer Prize nominee Theresa Rebeck’s The Understudy comes to London’s bijou Canal Café Theatre next month.
Staged as part of Canal Café’s American Season, The Understudy is a dazzling and humanistic look at people trying to do what they love in the face of never-ending obstacles.
Full of laugh-out-loud comedy and vivacious satire, The Understudy dissects the backstage friction of a frenzied understudy rehearsal of a long lost Kafka play about to be staged on Broadway.
Charged with running the rehearsal, Roxanne finds her professional and personal lives colliding when Harry, a jobbing actor, is cast as understudy to Jake, a mid-level action star yearning for legitimacy.
As Harry and Jake find their common ground, Roxanne tries to navigate the rehearsal with a stoned lighting board operator, an omnipresent intercom system, the producers threatening to close the show and her own mixed feelings about both actors and her past. Will the show go on?
For the first time, the theatre will be transformed to the round. Director Russell Lucas says: “I am very excited for our second play in The American Season. This is not only an incredible scoop for Canal Cafe Theatre, but for the London theatre scene”.
This comedic love letter to the theatre is all set in an understudy rehearsal of a Broadway production. Two actors duel and the stage manager referees.
The Understudy is part of Canal Café’s America: Past, Present and Future season which opened with Driving Miss Daisy in autumn 2016. The season will finish with a brand new commissioned play inspired by Americana.
Cast: Leonard Sillevis (Cowboy Mouth, Kings Head; King John, The Union Theatre), Emma Taylor (NewsRevue, Canal Café; The Birds, Leicester Square Theatre; The Nanny, Soho Theatre) and Samuel John (A Long Day’s Journey into Night, Bermuda Arts Festival; Dead Funny and Our Walk Through the World, The Old Red Lion).
The Understudy runs at the Canal Café Theatre from February 21 to March 11.