Brilliantly designed by Jim Findlay, the set contains two alternating proscenium screens—one downstage in the normal location and one facing the upstage-right corner—and is constructed on an angle such that the audience is privy to what occurs on stage as well as in the backstage dressing rooms. Bob McGrath's fluid direction, aided by John Ambrosone's keen lighting, continually shifts the viewer's perspective from that of performer to spectator.
Yet despite its technological prowess, innovative qualities, and visual appeal, the show is a bore. It is easy to completely zone out during the overextended yet understaged musical numbers, during which a solo singer generally gestures busily while hallucinatory images—of flowery Victorian wallpaper, underwater scenes, or crazy faces—are projected around her. Though initially striking, the repetition and constant movement of the projections combined with the redundancy of the music and lyrics makes the songs feel interminable. Brief, welcome reprieves come in the form of amusing backstabbing backstage scenes, in which Leight's snappy script drives a subplot about the cast's plans to overthrow their director and take over the show.
Julia Stiles gives a bland interpretation of the title role but is backed up by an outstanding trio of supporting performers: Goese, Sean Haberle, and Michael Anthony Williams.
Presented by Brooklyn Academy of Music as part of 2010 Next Wave Festival at BAM Harvey Theater, 651 Fulton, Brooklyn, N.Y. Oct. 26–30. Tue.–Sat., 7:30 p.m. (718) 636-4100 or www.bam.org.