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Backstage Review: An Octopus Love Story

JANE and DANNY

An Octopus Love Story

by Kerri Allen

May 5, 2007

Just when you thought Neil Simon had no descendent in the 21st century, along comes Delaney Britt Brewer. Her snappy new comedy, An Octopus Love Story, is one of the most accessible and genuinely funny shows to hit downtown in quite a while.

Subsisting on good old-fashioned humor, the play opens with two co-workers at dinner bitching about the office. Marc, played by a goofy Eric Kuehnemann (who, sadly, appears only in this scene), is trying to woo Jane, the lovely office secretary. Trouble is, she’s a lesbian. Their conversation is quick and easy and has the entire audience laughing within a minute.

Jane lives with her girlfriend, the overbearing and pretentious Tosh (Jenny Greer), who works at a P.R. firm with Alex (Michael Cyril Creighton), a snappy gay man. Tosh and Alex devise a plan for a protest-cum-media blitz: Jane will wed Alex’s best friend, Danny (Josh Tyson). Since Danny is gay, this — the P.R. pair hopes — will expose the hypocrisy behind the opposition to same-sex-marriage legislation in New York. But their plan sinks when their guinea pigs unexpectedly fall for each other.

Beautiful Kelli Holsopple plays the rootless heroine — unhappy at work and denigrated at home. She flips between Brewer’s comedic and dramatic moments with ease and tackles both with equal talent. The other comedic hero is Creighton’s Alex, always bespectacled and with a necktie, who drolly delivers lines like, “You won’t just marry any woman — you will marry a woman of the Sapphic ilk, the cargo-pant oeuvre.”

While the play lacks for little, the same cannot be said of the production. Director Mike Klar’s scene changes are bulkily handled by the actors in blue light, and it’s clear they’re uncomfortable in the space even with the lights up. This dampens the production a bit, but a play this funny and touching doesn’t come ashore very often.

Presented by Kids With Guns at Center Stage, NY, 48 W. 21st St., NYC. May 5-20. Wed.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m. (212) 868-4444 or www.smarttix.com. Casting by Melissa Braun, Grant Wilfley Casting.

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