BWW Review: MAP Theatre's GREENSWARD Exposes the Cutthroat World of Grass
I always hated mowing the lawn as a kid but it was one of the chores with which I was saddled. So, if someone told me they invented a grass that only needed mowing once a year I'd be all over that. But some might not appreciate this new revelation and do anything to stop it. This utterly absurd premise is the crux of new play written by Seattle favorite R. Hamilton Wright and being offered by MAP Theatre. And while the premise may be absurd what's not absurd is the clever writing and fantastic performances in a show that'll have you reeling with laughter.
In this ridiculous thriller, our hero, Dr. Timothy Hei (Kevin Lin), has invented a new strain of grass. And beyond it's convenience of only needing mowing once a year it also has some world changing attributes like how it needs no watering and can grow in almost any environment. Dr. Hei's discovery begins to garner worldwide attention thanks to his media consultant April (Peggy Gannon). And while many are excited for his new perfect turf, others not so much. There's the Eco-Feminist Flora (Marianna de Fazio), and the crazed lawn care billionaire T. Scott (Ashley Bagwell), not to mention the two mysterious figures Kemp and Lothar (Jason Marr and Nik Doner) all of whom have their own reasons for keeping the grass under wraps and who each have their own nefarious means for doing so.
This premise easily has the potential of being one joke beaten to death. Fortunately, Wright has created some fascinating characters, each with their own quirks, and supplied them with some fantastic dialog and quite a few twists and turns. And when combined with director Richard Ziman's wonderfully outrageous tone and staging what we get is a tight hysterical ride through a lawn care conspiracy culminating in a final showdown that is the cherry on this already delicious sundae.
And that ride is only aided by a delightful ensemble of crazies. Lin carries the show beautifully as one of the few sane voices in a world of insanity and Gannon, while owning a bit of the insanity, echoes the voice of reason and makes for an excellent bridge between the ordered world of Lin's and the absurd world outside. Bagwell leads the loony band with not one or two but three outstanding characters each one more outrageous than the last. De Fazio comes in a close second with two zanies and I must mention Marr and Doner who make for the perfect lurking heavies. Especially Doner who conveys tons of hilarity with just a look. And those are just a few of the outstanding gems in a quite rich ensemble.
Seattle theater tends to take a bit of a break over the summer months as we like to revel in our few days of good weather but you could do worse than sacrificing one of those evenings to catch this rollicking ride. And so, with my three-letter rating system, I give MAP Theatre's "Greensward" a delectably absurd YAY. You may think the world of lawns and lawn care isn't very interesting or dangerous but you would be wrong.
"Greensward" from MAP Theatre performs at 12th Avenue Arts through July 29th. For tickets or information visit them online at www.map-theatre.com.