BWW Reviews: MAMA WON'T FLY Showcases Classic Comedic Vaudeville Bits into Modern Road Trip Farcical Situations
Fans of sketch comedy TV shows such as The Red Skeleton Show, the Jackie Gleason Show and the Carol Burnett show will certainly recognize the many farcical vaudeville comedy bits in MAMA WON'T FLY, written by three of the most produced playwrights in America, Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten, and directed by James Rice at Little Fish Theatre in San Pedro. "This play moves like a whirlwind from beginning to end," explains director James Rice. "It's a fast and fabulous ride with enormously appealing and outrageous characters played by some of our most talented comedians."
What makes the incredibly outrageous characters and situations so funny is their real deep-down humanity, proving all humans are a little bit crazy and all families have their outcasts. But under it all in this play is the deep love shared between the two main characters, Mama (Susie McCarthy) and her daughter Savannah (Amanda Karr), although they have a strange way of showing it.
Savannah Honeycutt is about to shuttle her mother to Santa Monica for her brother Walter's wedding when she encounters a small complication - Mama refuses to get on the airplane. Dreading being alone in a car with her Mama for 4 days, Savannah drafts the hapless Hayley (Holly Baker-Kreiswirth), her brother Walter's fiancée with incredibly bad luck, and all 3 hit the road from Birmingham, Alabama, for a cross-country series of jaw-dropping adventures, each more insane than the last.
McCarthy, Kerr and Baker-Kreiswirth all possess incredible comedic timing, playing off each other so well that even the most outrageous scenes (and costumes) seem natural and just part of their everyday lives. Something as simple as packing these three ladies into an imaginary Mini Cooper generates the kind of laughter that cleanses the soul. Who knows if they'll ever make it to California for the wedding, and who cares given how much fun the trip turns out to be, at least for the audience!
Along the way, equally talented ensemble players including Daniel Tennant, Stephen Alan Carver, Chiquita Fuller, Victoria Yvonne Martinez and Sarah DiMeo, embody many crazy roles, each more outrageous than the last. From DiMeo's Bra Museum Owner with a walker, Fuller's drunk Barfly Juliet and Showgirl Minister, Carver's Cousin Chicken's walk and Truck Driver with Starbucks drinking hat, Tennant's Cross-Dressing Showgirl and Texas Sherriff, as well as Martinez portraying Mama's car door (among many other roles), each scene generates more laughs than the last. Characters run across the stage chasing each other during several scenes, and many times actors are positioned within inches of audience members who can listen to their whispered conversations while mayhem breaks out elsewhere. Thanks to Rice's brisk direction, there is never a dull moment, to say the least!
The simple set is composed of a large, painted road map detailing the stops Mama and her girls make along the way (with Carver and Tennant moving the car from stop to stop, complete with sound effects), along with a small platform on wheels used as the various vehicles in which they travel along the way - as well as the bed in which they all try to get warm after the luckless Hayley breaks the thermostat in their motel room. The various props, which seem to run well over a hundred in number, add more comical moments in each of the scenes. Costumes designed by Dylan Nguyen enhance the most outrageous characters' unique being as well as the everyday working class citizens met along the way.
So when you are ready to forget your troubles for a few hours and laugh your way to hysteria, catch MAMA WON'T FLY on Fridays and Saturdays through July 19, plus Thursday, July 17 at 8pm and Sunday, July 13 at 2pm. Tickets are $27 ($24 for seniors) and can be bought by calling the box office at 310-512-6030 or online at www.littlefishtheatre.org
Founded in 2002, Little Fish Theatre presents classic and contemporary plays in an intimate setting at 777 Centre Street in downtown San Pedro. Producing eleven plays each year for a one-room 65-seat venue, Little Fish delivers the quintessential close-up theatrical experience, where audience and performers share space and sight-lines, making for eruptive laughter, highly-charged action and palpable emotion.
Photos by Mickey Elliot.
Stephen Allen Carver, Holly Baker-Kreiswirth and Victoria Yvonne Martinez become acquainted.
Holly Baker-Kreiswirth, Susie McCarthy, Amanda Karr and Stephen Allen Carver careen out of control.
Daniel Tennant and Amanda Karr confront harsh reality