If you ask me…

- Tom Holehan

Long Wharf Opens with Martin Comedy

There are plenty of laughs rocking the Long Wharf Theatre right now as “wild and crazy” playwright Steve Martin returns to the New Haven Theatre with “Meteor Shower”, a world premiere that is opening the theatre’s new season. Produced in conjunction with San Diego’s Old Globe Theatre, the comedy, from the author of previous Long Wharf hits “Picasso at the Lapin Agile” and “The Underpants”, is sure to delight his many fans.

Set in a trendy Ojai, California home (the lovely sepia and aqua setting is by designer Michael Yeargan), “Meteor Shower” takes a look at marriage as represented by Norm (Patrick Breen) and Corky (Arden Myrin) who are hosting Gerald (Josh Stamberg) and Laura (Sophina Brown) at a party to watch a once-in-a-lifetime meteor shower. Norm and Corky are one of those New Age, touchy-feely couples who constructively try to deal with their anger and take time out, whenever a slight is perceived, to clasp hands and spout reaffirmations to each other. This running gag proves to be one of Mr. Martin’s most giggle-inducing threads in the comedy. The couple is in direct contrast to Gerald and Laura, an overtly aggressive duo both sexually and verbally, who spit insults at each other without filters.

The comedy initially begins like a domestic sit-com until Martin starts playing with his meteor metaphor to examine what marriage entails, how we treat the people we supposedly love and the compromises we make (or don’t) to survive happily ever after. Comic tragedy strikes in act one only to be subverted in the second act with time shifts and scenes being played over in an if/then, fate or destiny-type scenario. It can get confusing and Martin would be wise to doctor a script that could use some tightening especially in the repetitive and somewhat tedious second half. There is also far too much reliance on penis jokes here which, it must be admitted, had the audience I was part of in stitches.

It must also be admitted that there are plenty of wonderful, hilarious and quirky moments to be enjoyed in “Meteor Shower,” which is blessed with a pitch-perfect cast completely in tune with Martin’s one-of-a-kind sensibility. Breen, as the gentle Norm and Stamberg, as the alpha male are polar opposites who bounce off each other effortlessly. Brown, clad in a form-fitting and slinky hot fuchsia dress, can play passive-aggressive to beat the band and Myrin is a perky delight whose joy of performance is contagious. There’s a stunning meteor effect in the comedy that will not be described here but credit the creative team at Long Wharf for making it both uproarious and strangely believable. Jess Goldstein’s costumes and Donald Holder’s lighting also deliver. “Meteor Shower” is, in all, a crowd-pleasing start to Long Wharf’s new season.

“Meteor Shower” continues at the Long Wharf Theatre through October 23.  For further information call the theatre box office at: 203.787.4282 or visit: www.longwharf.org.

Tom Holehan is one of the original founders of the Connecticut Critics Circle, a frequent contributor to WPKN Radio’s “State of the Arts” program and Artistic Director of Stratford’s Square One Theatre Company. He welcomes comments at: tholehan@yahoo.com. His reviews and other theatre information can be found on the Connecticut Critics Circle website: www.ctcritics.org.


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