Watching a play within a play can be complicated, but that’s not the case with Nagle Jackson’s “At This Evening’s Performance,” directed by Andrew Barnicle and onstage at the North Coast Repertory Theatre until Aug. 6.
When the fun begins in this comedy, a lively cast of seven actors are traveling to Eastern Europe to a country now called Strevia, pronounced by the actors with a spfff. Within set designer Marty Burnett’s two dressing rooms, the actors discuss their new play “At This Evening’s Performance,” talk about themselves and complain about things.
The first is that people are not responsive enough to their old classic works being redone, and two, the Minister of Culture in Strevia, formerly named Dunsk, a certain Pankoff (John Nutten).
Actor Oskar (Kyle Colerider-Krugh) is the elder cast member who makes comments often filled with humor. Piers (Paul Turbiak) is a young man who has two agendas — one to romance Saskia (Sierra Jolene) and the other to heap suggestion after suggestion upon his colleagues, who mostly ignore him. Saskia is a lively actress who enjoys risqué moments with Piers and has no fear her husband will find out.
Hippolyta Posnik (Katie MacNichol) has a lighthearted role and is also married to Gunther (Bruce Turk), an actor throwing out orders by the minute to the cast that most of them oppose. Returning after many roles at the NCRT is Richard Baird, a terrific actor who excels in every character he portrays. As Valdez, he has authority to warn the actors there is a spy among the cast and someone will get shot! This ups the anxiety and humor. Can the Minister of Culture overcome this horrific announcement?
Barnicle does a great job of directing a play that requires just the right simultaneous dialogue and actions to remain an enjoyable farce. Anyone who enjoys the genre — which NCRT does very well — will relish the humor and perfection in the cast’s unveiling.
IF YOU GO: “At This Evening’s Performance,” is on stage through Aug. 6 at the North Coast Repertory Theatre, 987 Lomas Santa Fe Drive, Solana Beach. Tickets from $43. (858) 481-1055. northcoastrep.org