In "The Understudy," playwright and Ohio native Theresa Rebeck imagines that a newly discovered play by Franz Kafka is being produced on Broadway. Rebeck sticks snippets of Kafka's "The Castle" - which in real life is a novel, not a play - into her 2008 comedy, creating a play-within-a-play plot.

In "The Understudy," playwright and Ohio native Theresa Rebeck imagines that a newly discovered play by Franz Kafka is being produced on Broadway. Rebeck sticks snippets of Kafka's "The Castle" - which in real life is a novel, not a play - into her 2008 comedy, creating a play-within-a-play plot.

Now here's what makes "The Understudy," which Otterbein Summer Theatre is presenting through July 2, a comedy: The Kafka-on-Broadway cast features two action movie stars.

The two-man Kafka play's actors are supposed to be Bruce and his understudy, Jake, whose new film has just scored big at the box office. But "The Understudy" depicts a rehearsal of the play during which Jake takes over Bruce's part and a struggling actor, Harry, subs for Jake.

Trying to keep it all together, frazzled stage manager and former actress Roxanne runs the rehearsal like a despot. It doesn't help matters that she and Harry have a romantic history.

Although Kafka never actually wrote "The Castle" as a play, Rebeck recognizes the Kafkaesque predicament of theater professionals. At nearly every level, their fate is out of their hands. Understudies wait for fate to put them onstage. Actors must follow the instruction of playwrights and directors, and theater producers are at the mercy of ticket buyers.

Rebeck's "Understudy" is a love letter of sorts to behind-the-scenes folk such as stage managers and technicians, and the play promises a large dose of funny backstage comedy.