Aired on KSDS-FM on 59/1/17
RUN DATES: 8/11/17 – 9/24/17
VENUE: Lamb’s Players Theatre
“The Explorer’s Club” is an equal opportunity offender.
Nell Benjamin’s 2013 comedy skewers everything in its 19th century path: the stuffy, upper-crust, brandy-and-cigar clique of Victorian England’s exclusive men’s clubs; monomaniacally obsessive scientists; the braggadocio of explorers; snooty patrician women; headstrong female scientists; and indigenous peoples and cultures. It’s open season, and the glorious set confirms that with all manner of bird and beast, stuffed and displayed in the luxurious, woody club-room.
The crux of the minimal plot is the scandalous proposal to admit a member of the opposite sex into this sanctum sanctorum. Said female explorer has found the lost city of Pahatlabong, and has brought back a specimen of the NaKong Tribe. That’s funny, he doesn’t look bluish!… But he is… and in his audience with the Queen, he’s managed to slap Her Majesty across the face, demonstrating the typical greeting of his tribe. Royal soldiers… and angry Irishmen… surround the building.
Truly, though, the real action is watching this absurd array of eccentrics expose their peccadillos and preoccupations: from the botanist who cultivates poisonous plants; to the scientist who specializes in deadly snakes – and wears a representative cobra around his neck; the mincing researcher obsessed with, and emotionally attached to, a guinea pig; and the pompous one, calling himself an archeo-theologist, who insists that the Lost Tribes of Israel resettled in Ireland. Hence, the irate Irish outside.
The most imperious, grandiose and dim-witted of them all is the President of the club, hoping to make his mark by discovering the East Pole.
Lamb’s Players Theatre’s producing artistic director Robert Smyth creates a gut-busting atmosphere, jam-packed with hilarious antics. The acrobatic catching of glasses of liquor slid rapidly down the bar is alone worth the price of admission.
This cast is stupendous, some of San Diego’s most delectably deadpan and prat-falling comic actors. Everything about this gorgeous-looking production is first-rate, from that stunning set to the fabulous costumes, and expert lighting and sound.
Okay, there’s no intrinsic value here. But a good guffaw is just the ticket right about now.
©2017 PAT LAUNER, San Diego Theater Reviews