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Review: 'Copy' at Theatre of NOTE is a daffy original

May 10, 2012|By David C. Nichols
  • The cast of "Copy" at Theatre of NOTE includes, from left, Troy Blendell, Stephen Simon, Phil Ward, Cat Davis, Gabby Sanalitro and Lauren Letherer.
The cast of "Copy" at Theatre of NOTE includes, from left, Troy… (Nicholas Sayaan )

It’s doubtful that locals will see anything quite like “Copy” at Theatre of NOTE anytime soon. Padraic Duffy’s precocious absurdist exercise is, for much of its length, strangely hilarious.

On Naomi Kasahara’s copier-dominated set, secretary Betty (fearless Gabby Sanalitro) and Boss (Troy Blendell, edgy yet sensitive) discuss his lunchtime dismay. Tuna isn’t what he ordered, so he leaves Betty, who buries her face in the offending sandwich with orgasmic gusto. Only Boss changes his mind, tuna’s fine, and hints of pathos appear.

Duffy’s scenario, which David L.M. McIntyre directs to a ramrodding fare-thee-well, concerns the office that Betty, Boss and their co-workers  -- cheese-wielding Wendy (Cat Davis, a find) and grandiose explorer Brad (Stephen Simon, morphing Kevin Kline and John Cleese) -- occupy. Then there’s outsider Theo (Phil Ward, deftly understated), a Magritte-esque schlump with a feline obsession, and the new temp, sultry temptress Bed (adroitly deadpan Lauren Letherer). Nobody knows exactly what the company does, easily the least of Duffy’s textual gyrations.

As “Copy’s” rising action goes into wordplay overdrive and self-regenerating metaphor, it pops, thanks to the wonderfully attuned ensemble. Thus, when Davis’ wild-eyed Wendy breaks into Duffy and sound designer Peter Bayne’s bouncy Sapphic paean to Bed or Ward tries repeatedly to achieve cat commemoration, a weird vitality permeates the venue.

But in Act 2 Duffy goes for clarifying closure, such as the link between Betty’s hysterical pregnancies and the Boss’s fixation on daguerreotypes. And to explicate a what-zit is to deflate its impact. This, despite some demented bits, is exactly what happens, risking stasis en route to the heaven-overseen finale. That said, although it needs reevaluated dramatic priorities, this daft "Copy" is undeniably an original.

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“Copy,” Theatre of NOTE, 1517 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood. 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 7 p.m. Sundays. Ends June 2. $25. (323) 856-8611 or www.theatreofnote.com. Running time: 2 hours, 20 minutes.

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