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Review: The Many Guises of Meryl in ‘Streepshow!’

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A scene from “Streepshow!,” with many incarnations of Meryl Streep, at the Connelly Theater.

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Skye Morse-Hodgson

If your knowledge of Meryl Streep’s screen work is superficial, “Streepshow!” could drive you mad with frustration. But then Jay Stull’s new play may have that effect even if you know your Mary Fisher from your Madeline Ashton. It is, after all, built on a concept that could have made for an ace sketch but instead takes up nearly five derrière-numbing hours, split in two installments of two “episodes” each.

In “Streepshow!,” nine women are gathered in a house to compete in a reality-TV contest à la “Big Brother” — without knowing they’re all emanations of Ms. Streep. The winner will get the opportunity to rewrite her life.

It’s a delicious idea to have the likes of Sophie Zawistowski (Dana Berger) from “Sophie’s Choice” share a world with Francesca Johnson (Kristine Haruna Lee) from “The Bridges of Madison County” and Suzanne Vale (Sam Bolen) from “Postcards From the Edge,” and the evening starts off promisingly, if a bit shambolically. In an inspired touch, for instance, the actors all sport Kabuki-like makeup designed to heighten their cheekbones for maximum diva realness — which doesn’t care about gender assignations and includes men in drag.

Quickly rising to the top are the alpha females Miranda Priestly (“The Devil Wears Prada”) and Clarissa Vaughan (“The Hours”). It helps that Preston Martin and Claire Rothrock make a meal out of their impressions: He cuts a sleek knife-sharp figure and delivers Miranda’s lines in a threatening stage whisper, while she nails Ms. Streep’s body language and intonations as the hoity-toity Clarissa.

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