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Leila Toba, Daniel Smith, Corey Music, Rachel Allen, Nick Potter, & Sabrina Spalding. Photo: Corey Music
The Spy and the Playwright
A comedy written and directed by Corey Music and Nick Potter
Review by Keith Waits
Entire contents copyright © 2018 Keith Waits. All rights reserved.
When last we saw Nick Potter and Corey Music together, it was in 2013 with Nick and Corey Tell Some Stories, a loose congregation of comedy sketches delivered at a whip-crack pace. After having other adventures independently, they have returned with The Spy and the Playwright, a spoof of the espionage genre as if written by Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation).
Nick takes on the character of Ellis, a spy, while Corey writes the play in which he exists on a legal pad in a leather portfolio. They construct a scenario moment by moment using the murder of a femme fatale (Leila Toba in full Mata Hari glamour mode) as the departure point. James Bond is the obvious reference, especially when Ellis faces off against the villainous Vegeshgenabot (I believe that was the name – the pronunciation triggered many comedic spasms for Mr. Potter) in a high-stakes game of Texas Hold-Em poker just as Bond did in the film Casino Royale. Daniel Smith played the pompous dandy with flair.
But he is only an operative for the real Big Bad, Killrape (Collin Sage). Killrape…I can’t make this stuff up, because Nick and Corey already have. Sage appears in various bits and pieces before his entrance as the cartoonish Killrape, but he plays the evil nemesis with a hyper-twisted glee that reminds me of Mark Hamill’s comment on voicing The Joker in Batman The Animated Series; “I save a lot of money on therapy.” Committed is the operative word for this performance, in all of its meanings.
Music and Potter enjoy the kind of easy chemistry where you have no difficulty imagining them finishing each other’s sentences, yet, like so many successful comedy teams, their dynamic is built on contrast and conflict. Spy is a delightful goof, an offering of joyous absurdity that is not as mindless as it seems. It boasts a fair share of sophomoric humor, but the intelligence is there, reflected in the sarcastic nature of Music’s onstage persona. Potter is the blustery, manic one, the Costello to Music’s Abbott, and Mr. Music serves to remind us not to take any of this too seriously.
They developed their partnership in comic video shorts, and there is much about Spy that is cinematic. Besides the obvious Bond references, the structure and transitions feel a film script more than a stage piece. There is even a montage sequence.
Of course, as anyone who plays it knows, comedy is serious business. Try it sometime, and you will appreciate the skill and energy you find in this show. Sabrina Spalding and Rachel Allen are skilled utility players here, and appear to be having the most fun stealing the scene as Kilrape henchman in a riotous torture scene towards the end.
As the dog days of summer come upon us, The Spy and the Playwright may be the perfect entertainment before the more serious, meaningful stories arrive with the cooler temperatures. Breezy and filled with humor, perfect with a cocktail – at The Bard’s Town drinks are allowed in the theatre, and, who knows, it may be another 5-years before we hear from Nick and Corey again.
The Spy and the Playwright
July 26-29, August 2-4 (all 7:30 PM)
The Bard’s Town Theater
1801 Bardstown Road
Louisville, KY 40205
Keith Waits is a native of Louisville who works at Louisville Visual Art during the days, where he is Managing Editor of their Artebella blog, and host of LVA’s Artebella On The Radio on WXOX-FM 97.1/ ARTxFM.com. But spends most of his evenings indulging his taste for theatre, music and visual arts. His work has appeared in Pure Uncut Candy, TheatreLouisville, and Louisville Mojo. He is now Managing Editor for Arts-Louisville.com.