March 14, 2020 | Jason Applegate
A play about a cosmic force that descends upon humanity without warning was ironically a pleasant escape considering the week we have all faced. Managing Director Amy Spadafore had a very difficult decision when she determined that the show must go on, and I commend her for making it. Spadafore decided to reward the hard work of the artists involved with a public performance, and it certainly made for a night of laughter at the end of an unusually stressful week.
Meteor Shower, a play by Steve Martin, is the story of a couple, Corky and Norman, who are hosting another couple they barely know on the night of a meteor shower. The script by Martin is full of witty dialogue and silly absurdities similar to that of his other plays. But the plot is one that jumps back to replay the date night under different scenarios until their true identity is revealed.
Director Jeff List has cast the show wonderfully. Colleen Cartwright is wonderfully quirky as Corky. Watch her for some very well-timed facial expressions. Kale Schafer plays her husband, Norman, and he is absolutely natural in his delivery, comedic timing, and reactions to the other characters. In the opening scene when the two of them join hands and enact a therapeutic ritual, they clearly establish their characters, the relationship, and the world we are entering. Plus it’s freaking hilarious. Jonah Conner and Trashan Donald are electric as Gerald and Laura. Conner and Donald are committed to sewing deceit, and they both make bold choices throughout their performance. The cast has a grasp of the characters and the concept of the play, yet List has them play for the comedy of the piece instead of playing for the honesty of it. This keeps the audience from believing that the eccentric and malicious Gerald and Laura might be real people that someone would actually invite over for dinner. Thus an additional layer of comedy is left unmined and the big reveal in the end is not as rewarding as it could be.
Still, the performances are a joy to watch. The comedic timing clicks. Conner crows and postures while Donald sways and girates, and thus they give Cartwright and Schafer a wealth of material off which to react. The transitions between the rebooted scenarios are seamless. The lighting by Bailey Banks of the house and two peripheral scenes is precise and beautiful.. Be sure to look up during the meteor show so that you can enjoy the special effect that Banks gives you for the falling stars.
The set by Mike Winiewski (dressing by Robin Noah and scenic painter Mary Swift) is both practical and perfectly representative of the characters who own the home. The stained glass decorative windows represent the couple’s affluence and eccentricity. The costumes by Cassidy Palmateer are appropriate for the characters and the showstopper is the implementation of tablets into Schafer’s costume to create a hilarious effect. What a surreal moment!
So, if you need some respite from all of the COVID 19 pandamonium, you have two more chances to see Pit & Balcony’s production of Steve Martin’s Meteor Shower. Believe me, if you believe that laughter is truly the best medicine, then you will get a full dose at Meteor Shower. Also, if you are a little concerned, note that Pit & Balcony provides sanitary wipes for your seat and spaces your seating out so that you have limited direct contact with others.
Production staff also includes L’Oreal Hartwell (sound), Amy Spadafore (stage manager), Spencer Beyerlein and Hope Brown (assistant stage managers), and Ken Duby (set coordinator).