By Catherine Wagley
By Channing Sargent
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Amanda Lewis
By Catherine Wagley
By Carol Cheh
By Keegan Hamilton
By Bill Raden
Meanwhile, a pair of aged and extraordinarily incompetent detectives (Margaret Silbar and Larry Lederman), adorned in increasingly outlandish disguises, tail the runaway wife for Kip. In the best tradition of the Western stage, a psychiatrist arrives to reconcile egos and restore order — even though said shrink (Angeles Vara) is dressed as a clown and her idea of therapy involves forcing the story’s three couples to role-play a few rounds of The Newlywed Game.
The lights are barely up on Wonder of the Worldwhen doubts start crowding our already wandering minds. Isn’t this the play that made a splash in New York with Sarah Jessica Parker and Amy Sedaris a few years back? At the Manhattan Theater Club, no less? But haven’t we seen this one before, or another just like it? Isn’t this every comedy we see these days — cute, cloying, full of non sequiturs and spiked with adult kinks?Then it occurs to us that we’re watching another example of what might be called Theater of the Obvious. This is a recreational stage genre in which people with no apparent cultural references beyond television and junk food, and tethered to no discernible social reality, blurt out zany things and fondle toys and guns with equal abandon. “Let’s be lesbians for the weekend!” Cass squeals to Lois. Moments later she’s pining for that Arthurian time “before TV and crack cocaine [when] people used to talk to each other.”
Whatever. To be fair, Lindsay-Abaire’s World is full of “almost” moments. We almost get a whiff of Theresa Rebeck’s perfume during a snappy roundelay of marital conversations that unfold simultaneously in three kitschy theme restaurants, but the scene never evolves past its culinary gimmick. Likewise, the play’s final image, of Cass and Lois adrift in a barrel between two countries and caught between the past and future, life and death, is almostpoignant — except that such a feeling is completely unearned here.
Director Richard Israel’s production has two things going for it. One is Will Pellegrini’s set — a fairly bare-bones affair whose economy we never notice because of the giant maps and vintage post cards of Niagara Falls painted on its walls and doors. These graphics do much to transport the audience to this fantasyland of honeymoons and aquatic marvels that has drawn Cass. The show’s second ace is Sheldrick, who, in the role of the dour, cynical Lois, emerges as a welcome antidote to Fattibene’s Cass, whose high, single-note performance is so over the top that we forget where the top is.
Wonder of the Worldremains a screwball comedy with too many screws missing to take seriously, much less on its own absurd terms. In a way this WCE show is the production this cartoon so richly deserves, because without its celebrity cast and intricate set, we see Lindsay-Abaire’s obvious comedy for what it is, and before long we begin to wonder if there’s room for us in Lois’ barrel.
TOUGHER THAN GRACE | BY CHARLES TERRELL | At KING KING, 6555 Hollywood Blvd. | Runs indefinitely | (323) 960-5765
WONDER OF THE WORLD | BY DAVID LINDSAY-ABAIRE | At WEST COAST ENSEMBLE, 522 N. La Brea Ave., Hollywood | Through April 11 (323) 525-0022