Wonder of Wonders in Burbank
Wonder of the World by David Lindsay-Abaire
directed by Neil Wilson Sea Glass Theatre @ The Little Vic @ The Victory Theatre Center through November 1
Fast and funny, off-the-wall, a laugh at least every 20 seconds is the best way to sum up David Lindsay-Abaire's comedy about relationships Wonder of the World, now being presented by the newly formed Sea Glass Theatre at the Little Vic in Burbank. And in case you cannot tell from the photos, this Wonder is none other than Niagara Falls. That's right, Honeymoon Haven and (It) Proves Edgy Locale for the Play's Troubled Protagonists!
Whether 'tis nobler to stay in a marriage with a mismatched partner or seek your happiness elsewhere seems to be the question at hand. As the play opens, cute perky Cass (Elizabeth Bond) is leaving her hubbie Kip (Ian Vogt) to his utter shock and disbelief. She boards a bus for Niagara Falls where she meets runaway alcoholic and suicide bent Lois (Kimberly Van Luin), whose only complaint to a nonstop talking Cass is "You need to learn to segue!" The 2 rent a motel room and Cass sees it's her mission to save Lois from going over the Falls in a barrel. Lois' husband Tom is fed up with her drinking - which has caused their marriage to breakup - so the 2 gals have a lot in common, but not so much that they won't get on each other's nerves repeatedly in the next 2 hours. Cass hooks up with Maid of the Mist Captain Mike (David Ghilardi) for a sexual tryst, one of the many adventures on her check list of things to do in her free time. Kip meanwhile hires 2 novice PIs, who formerly owned a yarn shop, to track down Cass. Karla (Jill Holden) and Glen (Paul Strolli) follow her, and eventually Kip catches up.
All of these characters delightfully intertwine, creating one horrorific experience after another. Whereas saving the marriage seems to be at the core of Abaire's brilliant Pulitzer Prize winning Rabbit Hole, finding the best way to be happy - with or without one's mate -seems to be the point of Wonder. And whereas Rabbit Hole is a deadly serious play, Wonder of the World is dropdead hilarious from beginning to end. Abaire, not unlike the creators of Cable TV's Six Feet Under adores grotesque accidents and bizarre deaths. Lurid descriptions of them abound in this script, never for any purposes of sensationalism or fright; on the contrary, they are complete setups for laughs, laughs and more laughs. Audiences eat up these gorey details.
The cast is a dream under Wilson's taut direction. Bond is adorable, a kind of pixie youngish Megan Mullalley with a rapid-fire delivery. Vogt is equally funny especially in his tearful scenes watching movies in the absence of his wife. The question of Kip's gayness arises. A straight man weeping through movies and fondling, craving the sweater on the corpse of his wife's lover? Hmm. Straight? OK! Van Luin is a scream as Lois, drunk or sober. She's a scene grabber from the get-go. The PIs will do anything for a buck - Holden and Strolli make them a great comic duo. Jen Ray is dynomite playing 6 roles. Her 3 waitresses - all distinctly different - are standouts as well as the marriage counselor Janie in full clown getup, who adores moderating The Newlywed Game as a form of group therapy.
This is an adult comedy, so leave the kiddies at home. I do not want them to be exposed to Kip's fetish! Yes, Wonder of the World can be graphic, and is thoroughly outrageous every side-splitting second. You've gotta luv it!