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Reviews

Miscast

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Reviewed By Glenda Frank

Presented by Mefisto Theatre Company at Charas/El Bohio—Teatro 214, 605 E. 9 St., NYC, Aug. 16-26.

Let me begin by praising the performers who rendered their multiple characters in "Miscast" with spry distinctions. They deserve a better vehicle than this overwrought play about a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

Meg is a young actor cast in her first major role, Masha in Chekhov's "Three Sisters," but she's sure she was meant to play Irene (hence the title). She earns the rent money by fielding phone sex calls that are routed to her apartment. The first part of the play is clever as she switches fantasies to suit the clients. She's popular; she and her rolodex remember the details. But she can't concentrate, and hangs up on them just before they're happy, so they complain, and she's in danger of losing her paycheck. Katrishka King plays the phone operator, madam, and Meg's mom.

Unfortunately, the playwright (Jennie S. Staniloff) and the ingenue lose their focus together. What begins as an emotional conflict between the legit job and this questionable employment mushrooms into too much: a stalking problem, flashbacks on a sexual assault, the struggle to get her suc-

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cesful acting-team parents to listen, terror at her big break, and a psychosis with hallucinations (which began while she was a student at Cornell University). If only we could choose one—but they are all scrambled together in the last half-hour of the play. What the playwright needed was a friend to tell her to save some material for the next play.

Andrew Robbin's impressive performance not only depicted six different clients, but also offered a fully dimensional portrait of Meg's dad. As for Kelli K. Barnett, who played Meg, and director Jaret Christopher, it's hard to separate performance from material, but the team gave "Miscast" their all.

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