Well written, acted, and directed, Paper Dolls doesn't feel like a Fringe offering at all. Playwright Patrick Huguenin has taken his experience working for the New York Daily News' Rush and Molloy and transformed it into a very funny and slightly frightening look at the gossip-column wars and the price of fame.
Devastated by the defection of her married lover, feared gossip columnist Claire (Jen Jamula) has retreated to her rooftop only to be invaded by her actor-brother Austin (Billy Magnussen, who happily strips down to just a pair of tiny shorts), his new girlfriend Isabel (Ashley Morris), and her former protégé Tammy (Allison Goldberg). What follows is a game of bartering as everyone tries to get the best of — and occasionally for — everyone else. But while Claire is endearingly hardheaded, it's Morris as aspiring singer Isabel who steals the show. Landing laughs with every line she delivers in her first scene, she and Huguenin's clever, witty dialogue are a match made in heaven.
Presented by Lively Productions and Métropole Ink as part of the New York International Fringe Festival at the Players Theatre, 115 MacDougal St., NYC. Aug. 13-23. Remaining performances: Sat., Aug. 16, 12:45 p.m.; Thu., Aug. 21, 7 p.m.; Fri., Aug. 22, 4:45 p.m.; Sat., Aug. 23, 9:45 p.m. (212) 279-4488 or (866) 468-7619 or www.fringenyc.org.