Theater Camp

Susan Tailby
2 min readAug 26, 2023

Loved it! Delivered in serious documentary tone, this theatrical summer camp set drama is very, very funny and very well-observed. Whilst wryly observing and mocking its setting, it never laughs cruelly at the people. It’s just the situations they find themselves in — and their words, phrases and deeply mannered mannerisms.

Beloved founder Joan Rubinsky (Amy Sedaris) falls into a coma after a seizure induced by stage lighting. All the while she’s been in a deep discussion about how to make more money to keep the camp going and wowed by a star pupil giving 110%! With Joan hospitalised, her son Troy (Jimmy Tatro) is drafted in — who is completely clueless about all things stagey. But that doesn’t stop him cost cutting and trying to make money — sacking most of the old-timer teachers and hiring an imposter. Cue too the air bnb (while the kids are still there), a restaurant night staffed by the kids who treat it as the ultimate improv night, accidentally selling the camp to a developer to clear his debt with the bank and finally inviting his influencer friends along to see the show. (Hoping that they’ll bring their open wallets along too and invest, invest, invest!)

In true having to put the show on right here, Troy needs the kids to save the camp with their shining talent and influence the influencers. He also hopes that beaming the show into his mother’s hospital room will bring her back to sort everything out! (Cos after all it is a show about her very own life — however will they have their stagey-ist young actress in the starring role?)

It felt like The Lobster or Wes Anderson — only really, really funny. Or like the observational, situational comedy of The Naked Gun or Airplane, but with more nuance. Molly Gordon is terrific as Rebecca-Diane and Ben Platt as Amos Klobuchar, the stagey-ly and emotionally involved teachers who perform. Alan Kim was terrific as the camp attendee who wanted to be an agent. Ayo Edebiri bluffing her way through is great, although she doesn’t really have enough funny moments until the end.

Watch it for the rehearsal techniques, the language and the stagehand/techie Glenn Wintrop (Noah Galvin) who lurks behind curtains and blinds fixing things, then hides because he felt overwhelmed. See it also for the same stagehand guy running from one side of the camp to the other to fix increasingly bizarre requests! and even rolling down a hill. Ot Joan’s sidekick Rita Cohen (Caroline Aaron) channeling the receptionist from Grease. Uniquely too for comedy there isn’t any unkindness towards particular groups or characters or any gross-out, even though the teachers spout some burning comments — it’s just funny and ridiculous, with a dollop of stagey over-the-topness!

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Susan Tailby

By Susan Tailby. Appreciator of arts and culture; things I've seen and enjoyed and you might too! Reviews all my own opinion....Theatre, Movies, Dance & Art!