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Kirk Wood Bromley’s smart, entertaining exploration of what it means to be an indie artist begins with a chance reunion between two actors: Alan Benditt, who’s given up theater to work in a bank, and Matt Oberg, who’s sold out to Hollywood (all of the show’s actors use their real names). Benditt, who struggled stoically for years, is initially repulsed by Oberg’s lack of scruples, but changes his tune when Oberg offers him an audition with “Al Casino.”
Oberg shines as the slick, jive-talking big shot, earning extra points for mastering Bromley’s hilarious tongue-twisting verse (for instance, shouting into a cell phone, “No, Amusement Shark, yo lis’ to do re me”). He also does a mean Al Pacino. Oberg and Benditt scheme to strike it rich together, until the talented Meg MacCary appears as a bedraggled starving artist who makes an appeal to their consciences (“And yes, I’m hungry, but I’d rather be/Alive with searching than searching to feel/Alive”). Bromley’s characters contemplate the value of making art for art’s sake, finding no easy answers. But when Oberg decides to return to his indie roots, it’s a very happy ending.
Co-presented by Inverse Theater, No More Pretending kicked off Soho Think Tank’s annual Ice Factory festival, which features a new work each week. Among the upcoming shows are New Georges’ Stretch: A Fantasia, about the final days and musings of Nixon’s loyal secretary, Rose Mary Woods (starting July 18), and John Kaplan’s Vampire University, which follows a struggling family of blood-suckers to an evangelical college in the Midwest (starting August 8). Frankly, we can’t think of a better way to stay cool.