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Powerful, bitter, and intellectually corrupt critic Alison Alice arrives at a theater hoping for an exclusive interview with the mysterious Sue Z. Instead, she finds herself teased and questioned by a quartet of eccentrics. So goes Paula Alprin’s Greek-theater-inspired throwdown with critics. The thoroughly unpleasant Alison (played by Alprin as a shrieking, exasperated harpy) meets her Star Chamber, the most enjoyable members of which are Maude (a charming Laura E. Quenzel), a sort of machete-wielding society flapper, and Chester (Colin H. Smith), the Nick to her Nora. As they wait for Sue Z. to appear, the actors try to impress upon Alice the harm her writing has caused. Not only does Alice praise bad plays, calling Wok It: The Musical “a marvelous farce of nature,” she pans good ones—in one case, she decides upon reading a press release for a play called Duel At Delphi that her review will be titled Dull At Delphi, no matter what her actual opinion might be. It’s a somewhat promising premise, but Alprin passes on the opportunity to explore the symbio-masochistic relationship between artists and critics in depth by constructing Alice (whose motivation is unnecessarily explained in an extensive soliloquy toward the end) as a two-dimensional bully who seeks not to evaluate the plays she sees but rather to aggrandize herself by writing what she thinks will be the most impressive review. In trying to turn a mirror on critics, who “even pan the very thing that they themselves have done…like puns, rhymes, riddles, assonance, alliteration, anagrams,” etc., Alprin lards these devices throughout her play to eventual exhaustion. “Shred the varmints you call garments,” the inquisitors tell Alice, and “You not only came with a pun in your pocket but the pain of a family pickle.” Throw in the groaner “Take away the b and a brainstorm’s just all wet,” and you begin to get the idea. Director David E. Binet has fun with the supporting characters, managing a farcical bit of cocktail-juggling, for instance, but he can’t bring focus to the overstuffed script or the disappointing deus ex machina resolution that hopelessly detours Alprin’s attempt at a contemporary musing on the capital-letter themes of Art and Criticism. Or as Alison might write, this Underwear is no fun to bear.—Janet Hopf