Regional Reviews: Connecticut & the Berkshires
Set in Ojai, California on a warm evening in 1993, the opening finds blonde Corky (Arden Myrin) and calm-looking Norm (Patrick Breen) attempting to keep their relationship on an even keel. Thus, when one utters a remark that might be mildly offensive, the two step to the front of the stage, hold hands, and say "I understand that you probably did not know that you hurt me." Their home, by the way, is modern and stylish. The furniture is inviting, the blue background softening. Set designer Michael Yeargan provides the appropriate atmosphere.
Norm has asked Gerald (Josh Stamberg), a friend with whom he plays tennis, to watch stars and, perhaps, meteors. Gerald and his wife Laura (Sophina Brown) are manipulators who also happen to be very interested in sex. Corky, by contrast, appears demure but she is afflicted with "exploding head syndrome" and isn't really so introverted. Ditzy to be sure, she also has an aggressive side. Corky says she has read that "people know if they want to sleep with a person within two seconds of meeting them."
Norm, not the most confident soul, hopes to garner some new clients through his buddy Gerald. Laura, flaunting her body, is devious. Gerald is outrageously bold and one who will snort cocaine and such to drive himself. Gerald and Laura, two narcissistic people, will not be denied.
Martin's play blasts with jokes and it is impossible not to hear the writer (the comedian) through his words. Each of Martin's male characters stands, at one moment or another, for him. Gerald is loud and boisterous while Norm is self-doubting, if attempting to be hopeful. The show, which lasts an hour and 45 minutes including an intermission, is filled with laughs. Martin's writing is both bright and quick witted. These characters are attempting to find fulfillment in life while faced, even, with death. They, on these chaise lounges amid greenery, might be coping with a descending meteor, which could blast a hole in anyone's body. The world is not always hospitable. Is life, however fragile, still filled with promise?
Donald Holder's lighting and John Gromada's sound design are active ingredients during sequences which are literally explosive. Gordon Edelstein needs to be a pivotal director since the four characters are anything but complacent and Martin's world is sometimes chaotic, sometimes seemingly reasonable. The author speaks, in this satire, of marriage and lack of fidelity. The caustic tone sometimes recalls the late Edward Albee.
All of the characters drive the plot and each of the performers is quite capable. Stamberg played this role in San Diego and his Josh is overbearing to the point of absurdity. Arden Myrin colors Corky as multi-dimensional. She seems passive and conciliatory but not uniformly so. Actress Sophina Brown sculpts Laura with sharp edges and a zealous thirst for what she is after.
Martin's Meteor Shower, infectiously humorous, is not simply a bundle of laughs. These people are lacking something in their lives so they look to find significance. The production is definitely physical as, in one context or another, actors engage with one another. The playwright might just be making some statements about human nature although this is not obvious as one watches the play. Reflection during the drive home or contemplation the next day could reveal his possible motivation.
Meteor Shower continues at Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, Connecticut through October 23rd, 2016. For tickets, call (203) 787-4282 or visit longwharf.org.