Reviewed by Katherine Karlson
A sparkling gem of black comedy has been hiding in plain sight at the KNOW Theatre since April 8, and anyone in dire need of an unfettered belly laugh should run, not walk, to catch it before it careens off stage on April 24.
Steve Martin’s one-act Meteor Shower comes off at first glance as Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? as written by Rod Serling: Corky and Norm have invited Laura and Gerald to join them for wine and snacks ahead of viewing a meteor shower on a balmy summer night. What could possibly go wrong? Corky, played with psychobabble perfection by Julia Adams, provides the answer not once but twice: “If you don’t deal with your subconscious, it will deal with you.”
There will be no plot recap because it would give away too much of the quirky pleasure of this excellent production. Director Joshua Sedelmeyer delivers a play that contains every aspect of comedy in a balanced blend — there’s physical buffoonery and slapstick as well as clever word play in the form of rapid-fire one-liners. When Corky thinks Norm has died in a freak accident, her first reaction is “I can redecorate!”
Laura’s passive-aggressive snipes (manifested by Anna Simek with frighteningly funny sexuality) hit major arteries every time: “We should get a little nothing out in the country” and “I love that you never fixed up the kitchen,” when Corky gives her a tour of the house.
The actors are virtuosic in their speech delivery, physical action and interaction with each other. Jeff Tagliaferro is a nebbish Norm, who pulls his jacket up over his head to “go into my cave now” when Corky impugns his manhood. Tagliaferro has a Candide-like innocence and likeability that makes his most absurd stage appearance thoroughly believable. Ryan Canavan gives Gerald, about whom Laura says, “Everything reminds him of him,” a louche depravity that still charms as it repels.
The play moves backwards and forwards in time before it concludes in a surprise ending that will leaves the audience wondering what’s finally in store for Corky and Norm once they’ve bid Laura and Gerald a less-than-fond farewell.
The play has seriously adult content even when painted in the broadest of comedic brush strokes and the surreal aspects of the characters and plot just need to be taken as givens. Go with the flow and enjoy the meteor-like wit flash across the stage.
The only drawback to the performance I attended (April 15) came, not from the cast, but from some inconsiderate attendees who, as folks with theater experience, felt the need to deliver running personal commentary. It’s doubtful their fellow actors appreciated the loud and constant interruption, and the rest of the audience certainly didn’t, either.
IF YOU GO: Meteor Shower will be performed April 22-24 at KNOW Theatre, 74 Carroll St., Binghamton. Performances are 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $25 ($20 for seniors, $15 for students). Tickets can be purchased at knowtheatre.org.
Pursuant to guidance from health officials, proof of vaccination is no longer required, and masks are recommended but not required.