Regional Reviews: San Diego
Or, maybe it was.
Playwright and humorist Steve Martin turns out to be an unreliable narrator in the world premiere of Meteor Shower, so we can't be entirely sure what happens on this particular evening. The only certainty about the experience is that we laughed a lot.
This much is clear: Laura and Gerald arrived at Corky and Norm's home. They may have sent ahead an arrangement of three eggplants as a gift, and they brought along with them an $80 bottle of wine or, maybe it only cost $5. Norm and Gerald are tennis buddies. One of the two of them is fun to be with when he's winning but not when he's losing, but each describes the other as having that quality.
Drinks are poured; uncomfortable truths are shared. Games are played, much like the two couples in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, except that the games don't lead to significant insights on the states of each couple's relationship. And besides, Norm and Corky are too busy standing face-to-face, holding hands, looking deeply into each other's eyes, and admitting fault or forgiving fault for the most recent slight to the other that came out of their mouths.
The meteor shower is beautiful, but no one really pays that much attention to it. Tragedy strikes, or maybe it doesn't. Spouses are swapped, or maybe they aren't.
Eventually, Laura and Gerald leave. The play ends.
All along the way, there's a barrel of laughs. Some of the humor is very funny, some less so, but none of the jokes fall flat.
Lots happens but also nothing really happens. The play's kind of Chekovian in that way.
On the other hand, there's enough to laugh about in the foibles of other people's marriages that the evening goes by very pleasantly. There's even, for part of the run, an opportunity to see a real meteor shower after the show, assuming the weather cooperates (it didn't on opening night).
The Old Globe and Long Wharf Theatre are co-producing Meteor Shower. Long Wharf's artistic director, Gordon Edelstein, is at the helm, and his production is confidently staged in the Globe's in-the-round White Theatre. It's an attractive show from a technical standpoint, and many of the designers have Long Wharf or New Haven connections (Michael Yeargan, scenic design; Jess Goldstein, costume design; Donald Holder, lighting design; John Gromada, original music and sound design).
The cast does nicely at embodying the characters, and each member has an impressive mix of stage and screen credits. Jenna Fisher as Corky has the biggest range of emotions to play, and she manages to be funny no matter the situation. Greg Germann's Norm is something of a schlemiel but you want to love him so much that it doesn't matter. Josh Stamberg's Gerald fits the tennis description of the "good guy when he's winning" quite well. Alexandra Henrikson's Laura wears a slinky dress that's just enough wrong for the occasion that you immediately sense that she's trying to act gorgeous and sexy but not quite pulling it off.
Mr. Martin wrote the funny lines, but the actors make them work.
The production's already a huge hit at the Globe: two extensions (now closing September 18) and not lots of seats available. It moves on to the Long Wharf starting September 28. If you like absurdist comedy in Mr. Martin's signature style, Meteor Shower may be your $80 bottle of wine. If not, the same show might be your $5 bottle of wine.
The Old Globe, in association with Long Wharf Theatre, presents the world premiere production of Meteor Shower, by Steve Martin. Featuring Jenna Fischer (Corky), Greg Germann (Norm), Alex Henrikson (Laura), and Josh Stamberg (Gerald).
Performs through September 18, 2016, Tuesday through Sunday evenings with matinees on Saturdays and Sundays at the Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre, 1363 Old Globe Way, in San Diego's Balboa Park. Remaining tickets are available by calling (619) 23-GLOBE [234-5623] or by visiting www.theoldglobe.org.