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The TomKat Project

Critics' pick
Photograph: Elly Green
The TomKat Project

A satire of the rise and inevitable implosion of the tabloid juggernaut known as TomKat seems almost redundant. Thankfully, that didn't stop writer-performer Brandon Ogborn from setting his fine-tuned comedic sights on Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes and the various individuals and institutions caught in their once-considerable orbit. Combining fictionalized scenes with text culled from interviews, Ogborn lays out the weird series of events that led from Cruise's couch jumping on the Oprah show to Holmes's highly publicized escape from the world's most famous Scientologist. The show is staged simply, with folding chairs and a few well-chosen props. Six performers—most of them culled from the Chicago comedy scene—channel more than 50 larger-than-life public figures (Oprah Winfrey, Sumner Redstone, David Miscavige, etc.), while Ogborn himself serves as narrator. The text is snappy, the performances are spot-on, and director Elly Green keeps the proceedings unfussy and the transitions seamless. Unfortunately, the show takes an abrupt turn halfway through the second act, culminating with Ogborn delivering an angry, dead-serious rant at journalist Maureen Orth (played by the very funny Allison Yolo). But although this section leaves a bad taste, The TomKat Project recovers and ends where it started: as a smart, consistently hilarious send-up of celebrity culture and of our irrational obsession with these deeply flawed modern Olympians.—Ethan LaCroix

Click here for full TONY coverage of the 2013 New York International Fringe Festival.

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