Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Phoenix

Spy Love You
Brelby Theatre Company
Review by Gil Benbrook | Season Schedule

Also see Gil's reviews of The Submission and Little Wars


Brian Maticic and Jen Gantwerker
Photo by Shelby Maticic
From Get Smart to Austin Powers, there have been numerous TV and film spoofs of the spy genre over the past several decades that delivered big laughs. Similar to those famous satires, Spy Love You, one of Phoenix playwright John Perovich's most recent works, is a fun and charming parody of classic spy capers which incorporates elements of slapstick and verbal wordplay while featuring some truly zany characters in its wacky plot. Brelby Theatre Company's premiere production of the comedy has a winning cast who get big laughs and, even though it is a bit long and somewhat convoluted in places, it amounts to two hours of silly fun.

Perovich wrote the piece specifically for Brelby owners Brian and Shelby Maticic, who co-star as Charley "Danger" Sterling and his girlfriend Kate Danvers, two mall security guards who, unbeknownst to each other, moonlight as secret agents. The plot, like most spy stories, follows our heroic duo as they attempt to thwart the devilish plans of their evil nemesis. In Perovich's plot, that criminal mastermind is German Minerva Schlitz who, with assistance from the brainy Doctor Shenanigans and her bearish Russian henchman Kodiak, threatens to use death rays to kill off the population of Earth. They plan to start a new colony on the Moon where Minerva and her fellow cronies hope to serve "The Man," the entity they follow who is a mysterious, ruthless and unseen being whose identity is revealed in act two in hilarious fashion. Can Charley and Kate stop Minerva's evil plans in time?

Perovich's script is infused with hilarity and hijinks along with numerous action and fight sequences that are funny, as well as a few inspired musical moments. However, while the script is interesting in how it pays homage to the spy genre by incorporating familiar characters and plot elements and features plenty of comic bits, the plot is slightly convoluted and confusing at times, and a few of the supporting characters that factor into the plot twists aren't that clearly defined. However, perhaps that was Perovich's intent, since even some of the best spy capers include farfetched plot elements, mysterious supporting characters, and bits that go unresolved.

Fortunately, director Jessica Holt keeps the pace of the show brisk and her cast throw themselves into their parts which helps offset some of the script's shortcomings. Holt also incorporates some truly inspired theatrical elements, including using just the ensemble moving as a well-oiled unit and some umbrellas to create both Dr. Shenanigans' helicopter and a hilarious motorcycle and car chase sequence. Brian Maticic's fun and effective set design uses colored blocks of various sizes that the cast quickly move to create different playing areas of varying size.

The Maticics both appear to be having a blast in their roles. Brian's acrobatic prowess adds some fun moves to Charlie's fight scenes. He also has great facial expressions and line readings that get big laughs. While Shelby has slightly less to do as Kate, her no-nonsense approach instills the role with a nice amount of seriousness which balances the wackier moments of the piece. They also do incredibly well, as does the entire cast, with the fight sequences, which Brian choreographed to be a good combination of realism and humor, and with the dance choreography by Shelby that adds plenty of comic touches.

With a hilarious accent and a strong stage presence, Jen Gantwerker is deliciously evil and delectably comical as Minerva Schlitz. As Doctor Shenanigans, Devon Mahon adds plenty of inspired zaniness to the proceedings, while Clayton Caufman is both lovable and fearsome as Kodiak. Luke McFall is hilarious as the self-absorbed and self-centered Agent Double O' Nothing.

Spy Love You may not be entirely perfect, and the wacky nature of Perovich's script may wear a bit thin before it gets to its conclusion, but it still amounts to a fun time with a cast who pay homage to their archetypal characters and a script that is a loving parody of the spy caper genre.

Spy Love You, through July 21st, 2018, at Brelby Theatre Company, 7154 N 58th Drive, Glendale AZ. Tickets are available at www.brelby.com or by phone at 623-282-2781

Director: Jessica Holt
Scenic / Lighting Designer: Brian Maticic
Props Design: Rebecca Ulbrich
Costume Designer: Aubrea Robards
Hair & Makeup Designer: Shelby Huston
Sound Design: Sophia Chavez

Cast:
Charles "Danger" Sterling: Brian Maticic
Kate Danvers: Shelby Maticic
ABC: Tyler Miller
123: Jonathan Gradilla
Numbers: Anabel Olguin
Letters: Melody Chrispen
Minerva Schlitz: Jen Gantwerker
Kodiak: Clayton Caufman
Doctor Shenanigans: Devon Mahon
Agent Double O' Nothing: Luke McFall


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