The current production of Boston playwright David Lindsey-Abaire’s delightful dark comedy Wonder of the World — presented by Burning Coal Theatre Company, in collaboration with The Delta Boys, as part of Burning Coal’s “Wait Til You See This!” second-stage series — is more fun than a barrel of monkeys — and even culminates with two of those “monkeys” sharing that proverbial barrel as they fearlessly confront the nearly always fatal plunge over Niagara Falls.
Flying Machine Theatre Co. co-founder J. Chachula whips up this tasty comic soufflé to a fare-thee-well, like an Iron Chef of comedy; set designer ken Hubbell’s vividly creates a multitude of locations on the fly; and the show’s crackerjack cast creates a passel of unforgettable comic characters that will keep the audience chuckling long after they leave the theater.
Kathryn LeTrent is a real treat as runaway wife Cass Harris, who makes a beeline for the nation’s honeymoon capital after she discovers that her outwardly “normal” husband Kip Harris (played by Wyatt Geist) has more nasty habits than the Rolling Stones and their hard-living entourage. Olivia Griego likewise amuses as Lois Coleman, a drunk with a death wish (and a barrel!) whom Cass encounters on the bus trip to Niagara Falls.
Wyatt Geist as sad sack Kip Harris and Kevin Ferguson as lonely Captain Mike of the Maid of the Mist get to play it straight for laughs — and do so admirably — while Kathryn LeTrent and Olivia Griego are unleashing their inner wackos as desperate housewife Cass Harris and her new BFF, the blithely suicidal Lois Coleman.
Al Singer and Jan Doub Morgan add knee-slapping comic cameos as a pair of bickering, bumbling geriatric private investigators hired by Kip Harris to crash the party; and Amy Bossi-Nasiatka proves herself a comic jill-of-all-trades and steals the show as she impishly impersonates Barbara, a helicopter pilot, a tawdry trio of waitresses at three different tawdry theme restaurants, and an outrageously unorthodox marriage counselor named Janie, whose brief appearance amps the laughter up to a whole new level.
To say much more about David Lindsey-Abaire’s zany characters and the ways that their twisted paths cross before they meet each other — and the audience meets them — would spoil the fun. Burning Coal patrons should embark on Cass Harris’ hilarious journey of self-discovery as ignorant as daisies.
SECOND OPINION: Aug. 10th Durham, NC Independent Weekly review by Byron Woods (who awarded the show 3.5 of 5 stars): http://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/the-delta-boys-wonder-of-the-world-at-burning-coal/Content?oid=2630456; and Aug. 6th CVNC (Classical Voice of North Carolina) review by Jeffrey Rossman: http://cvnc.org/article.cfm?articleId=5014. (Note: To read Triangle Arts & Entertainment’s online version of the Aug. 4th Triangle Theater Review preview by Robert W. McDowell, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2011/08/wonder-of-the-world-is-a-wild-and-crazy-comedy-by-boston-dramatist-david-lindsey-abaire/.)
Burning Coal Theatre Company, in collaboration with The Delta Boys, presents WONDER OF THE WORLD at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 12 and 13 and 2 p.m. Aug. 14 in Burning Coal Theatre at the Murphey School, 224 Polk St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27604. TICKETS: $10-$15 (plus handling fees). BOX OFFICE: 919/834-4001 or http://www.etix.com/ticket/online/eventSearch.jsp?event_id=9940. SHOW/SERIES: http://www.burningcoal.org/third/waittil.html. PRESENTER: http://www.burningcoal.org/. VENUE/PARKING/DIRECTIONS: http://www.burningcoal.org/third/murphey.html. OTHER LINKS: The Play: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wonder_of_the_World_(play) (Wikipedia). The Script: http://books.google.com/ (Google Books). The Playwright: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Lindsay-Abaire (Wikipedia).
Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review, a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This review is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.
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To read all of Robert W. McDowell’s Triangle Theater Review previews and reviews online at Triangle Arts & Entertainment, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/robert-w-mcdowell/.