BWW Review: Riotous GROUNDLINGS OF THE CORN - Well-Oiled For a Dee-lish Weekend Laugh Attack
GROUNDLINGS OF THE CORN/written by The Groundlings/directed by Deanna Oliver/Groundlings Theatre/thru January 20, 2018
The Groundlings never cease to rock your funny bones. Their current laugh-packed Friday & Saturday night show GROUNDLINGS OF THE CORN keeps the hilarity charging right at you. Groundlings' ever stalwart director Deanna Oliver's takes tight, confident directorial reins over her comically gifted ensemble of eight as they inhabit their seriously funny (sometimes just by being serious) characters in the evening of eighteen guffaw-filled sketches. In CORN, as in all the previous Groundlings I've experienced, the Groundlings actors all perform seamlessly as a single funny unit, no matter what configuration of talents.
In Groundlings' tradition, the writer of the skit usually takes the lead in his or hers creation with the others in the troupe providing selfless support, even if for a ten-second walk-on or an intro voice-over.
Hard to pick the most outrageous out of all the 'I can't believe they went there,' sketches, but much kudos must go to 'Really Cute Dress,' so smartly written and so bravely performed by Ariane Price. Price plays a shopper anxious to try on a 'really cute dress' in her size, a size 6. Patty Guggenheim's utterly perfect as Price's totally clueless salesperson, oh-so-casually making the most unfiltered, uncomplimentary comments. One can easily feel Price's pain and discomfort as she struggles to take off the too tight size 6 dress. Having silently endured enough of Guggenheim's brutally candid remarks on her physical dimensions, Price proceeds to grab at her own, not-tight mid-section in the most unabashed, egoless holds. I have seen guys use their own body parts for the benefit of getting a laugh, but never a woman before, and so brilliantly. Brava, Ms. Price!
Guggenheim takes the stage, literally, from Kiel Kennedy and Eliot Schwartz, in her 'Out of Control,' as an uncontrollable teen who cusses and disrespects her father (Kennedy), talk show host (Schwartz), and assorted audience members.
Two skits made maximum use of props for maximum results of laughter. In 'Floating,' written by Kennedy and Schwartz, the two of them 'float' on inner tubes on rollers to simulate floating in the water. Seeing the various 'floaters' get 'stuck' on a step, I mean, a rock, or not being able to push off, er, paddle - just too funny in 'only in live theatre' mishaps so smoothly covered. In 'Size Six,' written by Schwartz and Alex Stagg, size six boots (attached) and other body parts get literally whipped out to uproarious laughter. (No spoiler here for this hysterical physical comedy bit!)
Videos (some very cute, some big awwwwww!) of various nominated balloon creators vividly complemented fawning balloon award ceremony emcees Josh Duvendeck and Chris Eckert in their '48BA.'
The hilarity of one's misplaced uneasiness scored in a number of skits. Stagg commands in his 'Co-ed,' as the overprotective uncle seeing his ward off to her college dorm. Duvendeck takes center stage in his 'Sex & Food,' as the solo attendee of a sensual food workshop for couples. Duvendeck's fish-out-of-water creepiness' matched only by Eckert's most creepy civilian penpal in 'The Visit.' Both so weirdly disturbing, one can't help but react with laughter.
Reversal of gender roles fueled a couple of sketches. In 'Hey Now,' Eckert and Lauren Burns take the outcome of an internet hook-up to a completely surprise finish. (Yes, Ms. Burns!) In 'More,' the one-night stand dudes Kenney and Staggs wish for more of a relationship with playgirls Price and Burns.
Just love, love, love the Groundlings Band (Greg Kanaga on drums, Larry Treadwell on guitar, and musical director Matthew Loren Cohen on keyboards). So great to have 'Green Bean,' with Duvendeck and Eckert as wanna-be jazz musicians giving the trio their individual solo spotlights. So well-deserved! As I say each time I see a Groundlings show, the very smooth set changes should take longer to allow more offered the Groundlings Band playing during the set changes.
Start your fall holiday season off properly by sampling some of Groundlings' hearty CORN.