Regional Reviews: Albuquerque/Santa Fe
Meteor Shower, which Fusion is presenting at Albuquerque's Cell Theater, is a slight, frothy, one-act cartoon, fit for a series of skits on "Saturday Night Live." It is no coincidence that the playwright has made numerous guest appearances on that comedic staple of NBC television.
The playwright, Steve Martin, also happens to be the nonpareil master of modern comedy on stage and in movies, as well as on television. Meteor Shower is not one of his masterpieces. It ran on Broadway for less than three months a little over a year ago. But it is from beginning to end good fun. You can't call it clean fun because the characters do get down and dirty, in multiple ways, but no matter what the sneaky twists of the plot are, the fun is alway first and foremost. Even when one character does die, he quickly comes back to life, apparently no worse for the experience.
The meteor shower of the title is both a literal celestial event and a metaphorical blast transforming the lives of a young couple, Norm (Bruce Homes) and Corky (Jacqueline Reid), who cope with each other through a screen of self-healing ploys drawn from pop psychology and relationship manuals.
The bearers of the metaphorical meteor shower are a second couple, Gerald (Matt K. Miller) and Laura (Celia Schaefer), who are older, more sophisticated, and hell bent to trigger no end of mischief. The encounter between the two couples in the home of Norm and Corky is repeated. Earlier, real and metaphorical meteors bring on a variety of dire consequences for the young hosts. Later, the tables are reversed and it is the guests who get their comeuppance. To avoid a spoiler, I won't go into more detail about the reversal.
Director Robb Sisneros and a quartet of highly experienced actorsFusion veterans Holmes and Reid, Miller from Los Angeles, and Schaefer from New Yorkskillfully present the playful, over-the-top, cartoonish conflict between the two contrasting couples. Their costumes and body language nicely complement their contrasting verbal tics. Producer Dennis Gromelski said he'd calculated that the quartet had a combined 153 years of acting experience.
Laura, who seems to get the lion's share of the best lines and becomes the center of the action, wastes no time putting down her "friends." She responds to a compliment about her dramatic, svelte, deeply slit dress by telling the plainly garbed Corky, "I get tired of looking awful. Don't you?"
Later, the tall, almost painfully slender Laura responds to a question about what drink she'd prefer with the comment, "When I have to choose between low-calorie and regular I understand the phrase dark night of the soul." Continuing with the brazen putdowns, Laura looks around the plain but neat and attractive living room and says, "I love that you never fixed it up." Laura also quips, "When you get to know your husband," she says, "you can't help but get depressed." And later she dismisses her bland husband as "normal Norm," who is said to "understand what it's like to have no inner life."
Many of Martin's intriguing lines linger in memory. One is "Optimism gives you disappointment, cynicism gives you the world." (That line recalled to me an adage my own father loved to repeat: A cynic is someone who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.) Another zinger that Laura addresses to Corky is "Aren't you glad we aren't men,?" and Corky replies, "I couldn't stand all the advantages."
Fusion's Meteor Shower, through April 6, 2019, at the Cell Theater, 700 1st St. NW, Albuquerque NM. Performances are Thursday and Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and Sunday at 3 p.m. Saturday, April 6, a 7 p.m. pay-what-you-will performance will be presented at the KiMo Theater, 423 Central Ave. NW, Albuquerque NM. For tickets and information, visit fusionnm.org.