BWW Review: A Wildly Conceived Climate Change Comedy REALLY REALLY GORGEOUS at The Tank
BWW Review: Climate Change Comedy REALLY REALLY GORGEOUS at The Tank
The time is soon. The atmosphere is dystopian. Two young ladies, obviously a romantic couple, are huddled on the couch in their sloppy shack. Canned goods and other junk are strewn all over the floor. Nothing visual suggests things are Really Really Gorgeous. A television announcer claims otherwise.
She is emotional about the incredible sunset today. America has been underwater for five years and 114 days. Before she gets to the news, a moment of silence. "We lost Portland, Maine. Think about that." Then she reels of a list of lost American cities and states. Finally, she adds, "The Pacific Time Zone. Think about that." But, she implores, look at the new world which has been created. A world which is "really, really, really. Beautiful."
The announcer lives in complete contradiction to the environment Mar and Pen are enduring. There is a reluctance to open the door and go outside. They are sick and tired of eating rations of Spaghetti-O's. Whirlpools are sucking more people in to their deaths. In Nick Mecikalski's vividly imagined play, climate change is really, really real. And really, really bad.
This announcer has big news. The President of the United States wants to hear from her citizens. A contest is planned where two winners will be chosen. "Singing, dancing, poetry, music, sports, singing, dancing - any talent you can dream of" should be submitted by midnight. Both ladies are writers and plan to enter the contest. The grand prize? An invitation to live in America's new capital city, Cleveland, Ohio.
Streets are dry and the SKY IS HIGH in Cleveland. They even have restaurants there like Applebee's! What a dream it will be to win a spot to change your life. How bad is it in America now? The women are watching an episode of American Idol. A singer is cut down for being awful. The announcer promises another try, advising, "just fix your lungs, okay?" Horrendous looking algae sucking then occurs. The women hate this part. It's disgusting but supposed to be good for you.
This play sets itself up quickly and firmly to create a comedic take on a future world ruined by rising waters. It is indeed hilarious to read about the Army Corps of Engineers designing a sea wall for New York City while many in Washington and in the media deny climate change is real. (That's not in the play but in our news.) It is indeed hilarious to read that Texas and Florida have submitted proposals for federal grants to combat rising sea levels without referring to the cause. In this bizarre time, Mr. Mecikalski wants to make us laugh. We need it.
Our outrage over the imbecilic denial of scientists' learned reasoning, however, makes us mad. This playwright has not simply created a comedy no matter how much we snicker at the exaggerated - and believable - antics in his wild story. There is a potent criticism of our society's embrace of celebrity and failure of government which drives the plot. As written, the play could be even better but it is never uninteresting.
The announcer is portrayed by Giselle LeBleu Gant as a recognizable loud-mouthed Oprah Winfrey. The mania of her speech and her self-absorption are skewered mercilessly in a delicious performance. This Oprah even gets to use the F-word. She hilariously proclaims her "burden of infinite wisdom." Like our real-life version, she wields tremendous power and uses it like all domineering puppeteers do. The announcer rants, "Can you SEE this with your EYES, you MYOPIC IDIOTS!!" Ms. Gant is perfection in the role.
In a three character play which includes a contest on page one, there is no surprise when the winner is chosen. How else would be be able to get past the walls which now surround Cleveland to keep the undesirables out? The plot, however, cleverly swirls as the government and the media begin the Spin Cycle. Mr. Mecikalski has a dim view of America. Or, better said, he views Americans as dim-witted. With that approach, he has conceived a play to make us laugh at ourselves and our basest instincts of self-survival and self-promotion.
Sophie Becker and Amber Jaunai are effective in the roles of Pen and Mar. Their chemistry is evident. Both are devious in their own way. The character of Mar could probably use a little more edge considering the road she will travel. Pen's road, on the other hand, is a farcical dream.
Kudos to Alice Tavener who designed the memorable costumes. What will we be wearing post-apocalyptic flood? If our billionaire manages to survive the flood, I'm sure we will read about that in O magazine. Nick Mecikalski's new play has some dry patches and is not perfect. This playwright, though, has a really, really gorgeous imagination and his ideas have been nicely staged by Director Miranda Haymon. Recommended for fans of topical fun.
Really Really Gorgeous is running at The Tank through February 9, 2020.