A “Meteor Shower” Falls on Long Wharf Theatre

 

By Marlene S. Gaylinn

Currently at Long Wharf Theatre (LWT), that wild and crazy genius, Steve Martin, has come up with a World Premiere called, “Meteor Shower. “ Unlike ”Picasso at the Lapin Agile,” and “The Underpants,” two, enjoyable plays from previous seasons, this work, which is also directed by LWT’s Gordon Edelstein, is totally different.

Martin’s absurdist offering compares the unpredictable accidents of the Universe with the inexplicable behavior of humans on this planet. Nothing here is meant to be logical. In fact, the observer is encouraged to go with the flow and simply enjoy the piece for its humor. If there is a theme, one might refer to an ancient philosopher who once said, “Nothing is either right or wrong -- it’s our thinking that makes it so.”

Corky (Arden Myrin) and Norm (Patrick Breen) are preparing to welcome their new-found guests, Gerald (Josh Stamberg) and Laura (Sophina Brown) to their suburban, Los Angeles home, to watch a meteor shower.We glean form their conversation, that the invited guests happen to know a more influential couple whom the hosts would like to meet -- so their immediate objective is social climbing.

Corky is appropriately named because she acts a bit kooky, admits that her brains seem to explode in her head, and speaks as if she was “Born Yesterday.” Her husband, Norm, is your more normal, “Everyman.” The couple is into practicing the latest formula for a successful marriage. At the slightest hint of an offensive remark, the two immediately stand up, face each other and hold hands. The offending partner apologizes, and all is forgiven and forgotten. Enter the guests, Laura (Sophina Brown) and Gerald (Josh Stamberg) -- a lowbrow couple who look as if they just drove up on a motorcycle.

Unexpectedly, it turns out that these “Anything Goes” visitors, are the complete opposite of their hosts.The newcomers speak downright dirty, street-language and immediately take over by making themselves comfortable, while the hosts become guests in their own home. Sexy Laura, in a clinging, red dress, and careless, crumpled-clothed Gerald, take turns trying to break down the social and sexual barriers that separate the two couples.

The host’s welcoming scene is repeated three times. Like the unpredictable meteors that crash onto the outdoor patio, each scene illustrates different tactics, compromises and outcomes, until all kinds of behavior, including increasingly foul language and a variety of drunken, sexual partnerships become totally chaotic and incomprehensible. In one episode a meteor strikes Norm and he survives as robot whose broken, abdominal tubes spout water. If you like theatre of the absurd, this is sure to be a groundbreaking experiment, however, it needs some adjustments and the test of time to fully appreciate.

The audience enjoyed the unexpected format which is sprinkled with witty humor. Like private, family jokes, this viewer admits that there are symbolic details in this presentation which are hard to grasp.The acting ensemble works very well together and the interesting, rotating set, by Michael Yeargan reveals the interior of the house, as well as different perspectives of the outdoor patio where some of the seductions take place.

Plays to November 5th Tickets: 203-787-4282.

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