Sunday, April 15, 2007

PLAY: "A Guy Adrift in the Universe"

All those philosophically numbing plays getting to you? Do you feel lost or confused, not just by the theater you've gone to see lately, but by life itself? Larry Kunofksy's A Guy Adrift in the Universe has to be the most straightforward, explicit comedy I've seen this year. God bless it. Spurred on by a frantic, hard-working cast, and a fast-paced, joke-heavy script, this is a concise summation of life, no strings attached. The scope of the show forces it to be a deliberate and overbearing, but it's not long enough to be redundant, and too sweet to ever taste bitter.

The story begins, as it must, with A Guy being born. Sitting in the hospital (so we're told), in some weird cross between Family Guy and the classic baby skit from Free To Be Me and You, he instructs Another Guy (Corey Patrick, who in this case is the doctor, but will later on be the father and the son, the employer and the employee, and so forth) to return him to the womb. When told it's impossible, he curses, does a double-take, and wonders what that word means. Quips the doctor: "That's what your mom and dad did." A groan-worthy joke, yes, but the show charms with the relentlessly innocent jokes. (I would, however, pare back on the curses: they give the show a sophomoric feel that director Jacob Krueger has worked so hard to ameliorate.)

Krueger's work is fairly subtle for a work so flatly punctuated. The show begins with three chairs hanging from knobs on the wall made out to be stars, and as time progresses, those chairs are joined by the detritus of life. I'm a fan of economical design: every prop has significance, both in the scene, and then as a memory, fastened to the wall. When the show ends, as it must, with A Guy leaving the stage, there is a moment, before the lights dim, that we can still see him, spread out in the mementos across the stars.

Also of note are Zarah Kravitz and Sutton Crawford, the appropriately titled A Woman and Another Woman. The two are fine comic actresses, and they slip easily into and out of each role. Like the men, they're comfortable hamming up the physical comedy of breast-feeding or making-out (especially that first orgasm), but they're also quite capable of evoking sorrow, especially as A Guy's mind starts to go.

A Guy Adrift in the Universe may be a blunt instrument, but let's not forget for a moment that hammers are what nail points home. This production is a testament to the successful use of simplicity.

No comments: