By George Basler
KNOW Theatre, known for presenting provocative and edgy dramas, is lightening up things with its next production, Meteor Shower, written by actor and standup comedian Steve Martin.
The play is an adult comedy with “an absurd and off-beat” tone,” said Joshua Sedelmeyer, who is directing the production that opens Friday (April 8) and runs for three weekends at KNOW’s theater in downtown Binghamton.
Sedelmeyer signed on to direct the show after Tim Gleason, KNOW’s artistic director, gave him the play to read. “Usually, I don’t laugh out loud when I’m reading something for the first time,” he said. “This was so funny on first read that I couldn’t resist.”
Meteor Shower ran on Broadway in 2017 with comedienne Amy Schumer in a lead role. The New York Times, in its review, called it “a slick production” that is “definitely funny.”
The KNOW production features four actors – Julia Adams, Jeff Tagliaferro, Ryan Canavan and Anna Simek — who have appeared in numerous local and regional productions.
For his part, Sedelmeyer has racked up 10 directorial credits at KNOW since 2013, primarily for the company’s annual Playwrights & Artists Festival and Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. He also has acted in and directed productions in the Binghamton and Ithaca areas.
Meteor Shower takes place in suburban Los Angeles when Norm (Tagliaferro) and Corky (Adams) — a couple having problems in their marriage — invite another couple, Gerald (Canavan) and Laura (Simek), over for drinks and snacks as they watch a once-in-a-lifetime meteor shower.
“We find out very quickly that the couple are not good guests. They’re there to wreak havoc on Norm and Corky’s relationship,” Sedelmeyer said.
One-liners, gags and sparks fly as the two couples get up-close and personal and unleash their inner selves. “The play is in your face. The scale of humor is in your face. The characters pretty quickly get in your face,” Sedelmeyer said.
One of the challenges during rehearsals has been trying not to crack up with laughter in every scene, Tagliaferro noted humorously. Simek agreed the play is very funny, but it’s also challenging to perform because comedy requires cast members to be “incredibly precise” in their acting, she said.
Canavan said he signed up for his role because he’s a fan of Steven Martin and thought it would be fun to do Meteor Shower. “Absurd is the best word for it (the play),” he said. But it’s relatable in a lot of ways as well, he added.
Sedelmeyer thinks now is a perfect time to be producing Meteor Shower. The last two years have been difficult and disruptive, and audiences are looking for relief and laughs, he said.
Meteor Shower “doesn’t get into politics, the economy or religion. … It doesn’t touch on supply chain problems,” he added, with a smile. What it does touch on, in a humorous way, is the challenging nature of adult relationships.
“The idea is that, in order for a relationship to be successful, individuals have to be honest with themselves and each other. By knowing yourself, and developing trust with a partner, you have a chance in a relationship,” Sedelmeyer said.
The director did issue one note of caution.: Meteor Shower features adult humor and some moments that are not appropriate for children. So, leave the kiddies at home.
IF YOU GO: Meteor Shower will be performed April 8-24 at KNOW Theatre, 74 Carroll St., Binghamton. Performances will be 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $25 ($20 for seniors, $15 for students). Tickets can be purchased at knowtheatre.org. A pay-what you-can-night will be offered at 8 p.m. Thursday, April 14.
Pursuant to guidance from health officials, proof of vaccination is no longer required, and masks are recommended but not required.