Lightning may not strike twice in the same place but a meteor sure does in Steve Martin’s newest comedic drama, premiering at Long Wharf Theatre.
Aptly titled Meteor Shower, the co-production with The Old Globe, directed by Gordon Edelstein, shows one wild and crazy story from two different perspectives with very different results.
This delightfully dark contemporary comedy in two acts has Steve Martin’s acerbic wit written all over it and is the third production by the multi-talented actor/comedian/musician/writer to grace the Long Wharf stage, starting with The Underpants in 2013 and Picasso at the Lapine Agile in 2014.
It has the snappy repertoire and fast pacing of Noel Coward’s classic bedroom comedy Private Lives with an absurdly evil twist.
Corky and Norm have invited Gerald and Laura (whom they’ve never met) to a dinner party to view a meteor shower at their Ojai, California house. The devilish guests are playing some sort of strange head game with their naïve hosts that slowly unfolds.
Corky and Norm have been working on their relationship. They alternate staring into each other’s eyes and saying how they really feel, which is really funny and not so real. The meteor shower in the night sky serves as an excuse for Gerald and Laura to divide and conquer their victims. The mysterious delivery of a gift basket containing three eggplants prior to their arrival (signature Steve Martin silliness) foreshadows the future.
The acting in this ensemble piece is exceptional all around, but if there was a first prize, Arden Myrin would win it for her role as Corky, the requisite ditzy blonde, who both is and isn’t whom she appears to be. Myrin is not only adorable, but a master of physical comedy, especially her facial expressions, with a knock-out dry delivery, acknowledging for example, that yes, she had a bout with cannibalism while lost and starving in the Himalayas, but is so over it, despite Norm’s protests that “Once a cannibal, always a cannibal.”
Patrick Breen is well suited to his role as Norm, a bit of a stiff stereotypical West Coast privileged white guy to start, whose performance (literally) lights up as the play progresses.
Josh Stamberg as Gerald and Sophina Brown as Laura play more broadly defined characters. She is the tall, thin, brunette seductress—of both Corky and Norm—pretending to have once weighed 310 pounds. Brown drips with sarcasm and has comedic pregnant pauses down pat.
Stamberg is a big, dark, handsome guy, his Gerald in stark contrast to the pale, lightweight Norm. A drinking, drugging ladies man, both imposing and befuddled at the same time, Stamberg is a good fit for the role.
Without giving it away, let’s just say, in the final scene, Corky and Norm get to exert their revenge on Gerald and Laura and, as the couple agrees, “Nothing energizes a marriage more than a common enemy.”
Eliminating the need for set changes, Michael Yeargan’s rotating stage effortlessly alternates from the perfectly appointed ultra-contemporary California living room to luxurious lounge chairs on the patio facing the ocean.
Lighting designer Donald Holder with sound designer John Gromada have inventively set the chairs (and several characters) on fire with falling meteors—beware of occasional loud eruptions and some smoke.
Jess Goldstein’s costumes accentuate their characters personalities—Corky’s pretty, little turquoise dress and Laura’s skin-tight, hot pink cocktail dress. And Goldstein’s post-meteor strike outfits are a hoot.
There is no hidden social message or profound truths in this production, just good new-fashioned fun in Steve Martin’s latest contribution to live theater.
Meteor Shower is at Long Wharf Theatre, 222 Sargent Drive, New Haven, through Oct. 23. For tickets and more information online visit www.longwharf.org or call 203-787-4282.