>>> Review: Late Night is a hot-button show

LATE NIGHT by Kat Sandler (ZoomerLive). At the ZoomerHall (70 Jefferson). Runs to October 23. $25-$50. zoomerlive.com. See listing. Rating:.


LATE NIGHT by Kat Sandler (ZoomerLive). At the ZoomerHall (70 Jefferson). Runs to October 23. $25-$50. zoomerlive.com. See listing. Rating: NNNN

The late-night talk show wars may have quieted down recently, but the fight is still ongoing in Kat Sandlers clever and topical new play.

The premise is brilliant: tonight in a live studio were about to watch talk show vet Marty OMalleys (Alon Nashman) final show as host of The Early Late Show. Thanks to savvy producer Alannas (Maria Vacratsis) idea, OMalley will pass the torch to an as-yet-unannounced new host, which we know will be young, hip staff writer Sarah (Kat Letwin).

But this is live TV, and anything can happen, especially when Martys ego is on the line, an expensive bottle of scotch is open and Sarah makes a verbal slip that starts trending on social media. Add a couple of amusing guests, among them Nigel Downer as a Tyler Perry-like creator of a Black drag alter ego and youve got an explosive situation.

The rich scenario allows Sandler to riff on lots of relevant topics, including ageism (look for the brilliant bit about checking boxes on surveys), the old boys network of straight white male entertainers and the endless need to lure younger viewers. Shes particularly strong on the way female comics are scrutinized.

Sandlers first collaboration with media mogul Moses Znaimers ZoomerLive benefits enormously from being performed in the ZoomerPlex, a real studio in Liberty Village. The set looks authentic, and we in the audience can watch the action happen live and on various screens, creating a strange double effect were there, but we also see what it would be like to be watching from home.

Under Sandlers strong direction, Nashman, Letwin and Downer are superb at playing their characters private selves and their heightened public ones. Vacratsis delivers some sharp jabs as the tough producer. The only underdeveloped part is that of a harried intern, although Michael Musi nails his awkwardness.

A couple of moments are too funny to spoil lets just say they send up our love/hate relationship with celebrity with satisfying savagery.

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