Aired on KSDS-FM on 8/26/16
RUN DATES: 7/30/16 – 9/18/16
VENUE: The Old Globe
There are several well-worn theatrical tropes in Steve Martin’s new comedy, “Meteor Shower.” The total breakdown of civil behavior, for one. Couples hellbent on messing with the minds of others. A fine line between the real and the imaginary. And the replaying of entire scenes, with different power-plays and outcomes. Oh, and you can throw in a California sensibility, equal parts New Age- and nouveau riche, with a penchant for non-traditional marriage.
So, it feels kind of familiar, in a Steve Martin kind of way. The most interesting aspect, the titular meteor shower, with its ancient origins and potential for unexpected consequences, is ultimately used not for information or enlightenment, but for silly ends.
A pity. Because that could’ve given the piece a gravitas it lacks. Yes, it’s a comedy. But the best dramatic amusements are really about something. And you’d be hard-pressed to nail that down in this sleek, slick playwriting exercise.
No complaints about The Old Globe’s world premiere, an attractive co-production with the Long Wharf Theatre. Director Gordon Edelstein, long-time artistic director of that 50-year-old mainstay of New Haven, Connecticut, has marshaled an outstanding cast and design team. The characters may be cartoonish stereotypes, but they’re expertly played – by Jenna Fischer as a seemingly mousey wife, Greg Germann as her wimpy counterpart, Alexandra Henrikson as an oversexed omnivore and Josh Stamberg as a slithering macho egotist. One couple seeks calm; the other, chaos. But in the surreal replays, predators and prey satisfyingly switch places.
The year is 1993, and the supercilious, snobby L.A. types have come to the ‘country,’ that is, alternate-lifestyle, woo-woo Ojai, where a meteor shower actually can be seen. Havoc ensues, on the personal, sexual and astronomical levels.
The scenic design is pitch-perfect: a tasteful house and grassy yard – which fits neatly onto the Globe’s White arena stage. The tinkly music is part spiritual, part supernatural. These two marriages are certainly not out-of-this-world. But that’s okay, because they’re not really believable, either. And we don’t care too much if any or all of the principals get blown to bits by a meteorite.
©2016 PAT LAUNER, San Diego Theater Reviews