Sunday, December 10, 2017

Meteor Shower

"Well, now, that was a mess," my daughter mused during the curtain call at Meteor Shower, currently running at the Booth through late January. "Yeah," I agreed. "Didn't really hang together, huh?" "Maybe Steve Martin wants another de Kooning or something," my husband mused. And with that, we bundled up and walked out of the theater into the snow.

But don't let the comments above throw you: all three of us laughed our asses off through the whole show, and you should totally go see it so that you can laugh your ass off, too. Just don't expect to encounter an actual play at any point during the process. Because Meteor Shower is to drama what a can of Chef-Boyardee ravioli is to dining.

Matthew Murphy
Here's the thing, though: I loved that canned, viscous glop. At some points during my reasonably happy if occasionally depressive childhood, I'd venture that there was absolutely nothing better than an entire can, heated over the stove and dumped into a plastic bowl. Just like sometimes--especially at times when the world has become a hot, flaming pile of endless disappointment and despair--a whizzing series of not-especially-connected one-liners, short bits, and sight gags that only kind of resolve at the end of a fleetingly satisfying seventy-five minutes is absolutely heavenly.

It's not worth recounting the plot, in part because there isn't much of one and in part because what does count as a throughline doesn't really make any sense. But whatever, in case you're curious, two married people (Amy Schumer and Jeremy Shamos) hang out with their alter egos (Laura Benanti and Keegan-Michael Key) at their place in Ojai during a meteor shower, and wackiness ensues. Said wackiness ranges from mysterious eggplant-sending and related attempts at gaslighting, some increasingly convoluted sexual couplings, the speaking of invented languages, the use of hard drugs and the lifting of silverware, a handful of nicely-timed sight gags, and a smattering of garden-variety dick jokes. Because the four actors cast in the roles are brilliant with comic timing and are clearly having a blast playing for every guffaw they can milk out of the script, the fact that there's no logical whole doesn't matter at all.

Meteor Shower has been likened to a Saturday Night Live sketch that goes on too long, I disagree with this. Instead, it reminds me of Martin's most hilariously bizarre standup work: his grandmother's song; his fondness for names like Gern Blanston and the one it's impossible to spell out accuratelythe cruel shoes. Martin quit doing standup years ago, but I suppose a brilliant comic doesn't ever stop coming up with random bits; Meteor Shower strikes me as a long list of gleefully strange gags he kept track of, gradually strung together, and finally tried to drape a practically nonexistent plot around. Not quite a straightforward standup routine, the show still functions less like a play and more like an excuse for four very broad comics to be collectively ridiculous for a little over an hour. Go if you can, take your mind off the world, guffaw a little. You'll be especially amused, I think, if you're a fan of any of the people involved: the goofily funny people who make up the cast; Jerry Zaks, who has been directing since Broadway was invented and does a typically fine job here; and Martin, whose flair for the absurd is on full display. Hell, even the costumes are amusing (Keegan-Michael Key's mandals nail the landing, Ann Roth).

Go. Enjoy. If possible, sneak a can of ravioli in with you; you'll thank me.

1 comment:

Amanda Clarke said...

I’m totally in for some ravioli. Great piece!