Laughing Wild

Written by Christopher Durang
Directed by Liesl Tommy
Equity showcase (closed)
Lynx Ensemble Theater
Abingdon Theater Arts Complex Stage II
Review by Seth Bisen-Hersh

Laughing Wild is one of Durang's best-known plays. The Lynx Ensemble Theater presented a well-done revival with a talented duo. It was hilariously nonsensical, all the while giving its message to relax a little and just breathe.

The show comprises three separate parts. There are two monologs, given first by the woman and then by the man, then a dream sequence where they play off each other. The woman's monolog mostly consists of digressional rants. We learn about her recent incident trying to get tuna fish at the supermarket, where she slugs a man for blocking the aisle. Then, she tries to hail a taxi. Eventually she gets one but jumps out when the driver threatens to take her to the police. Unfortunately she lands in a gutter, and then must pick herself up. It is clear that she is a tad crazy -- she talks about these insane incidents as well as about street musicians, her time in a loony bin, and her enmity for Mother Teresa and Sally Jessie Raphael.

The man's monolog is interspersed with many actualizing affirmations. The man is a neurotic nebbish who is trying to be happy. He tries to make sense of getting hit at the supermarket by a crazy lady after he was fixating on tuna fish to ignore her staring at him. He tries to come to terms with that, among other things -- like the non-existence of God and homosexuality.

The final act commences with the recreation of the tuna fish incident. It is played out in a myriad of ways, each more bizarre than the last. Then, there is an eccentric dream sequence in which the characters delve into their own psyches. Both are trying to make sense of their chance meeting.

The play itself has very funny moments. The monologs are filled with non-sequiturs and wonderfully witty quotes. It is at its best the raunchier and more nonsensical it gets. The themes covered are poignant and real, while the method of covering them is laced with comical asides.

The actors were very good. Aileen Barry charmed the audience with her brashness and charisma. She delivered her monolog as if it were an ordinary conversation. She laughed off the most outrageous conceits of her character beautifully, and got laughs at every possible point. Mark O'Connell was neurotically nervous as the man. He illustrated his character's inner struggles while capturing the audience's attention and affection. He was also quite funny as he meandered through his existential monolog.

The production was very good too. Director Liesl Tommy hit every nuance of the script's subtleties perfectly. The lack of a fourth wall was enjoyable. (Barry started the show from a seat in the theatre.) The set, by Brandon Matthews, was simple but worked well in the small space.

Thus, Laughing Wild is a humorous and poignant play, well-performed by the Lynx Ensemble. The audience was indeed laughing wild.

 Box Score:

Writing: 2
Directing: 2
Acting: 2
Set: 1
Costumes: 1
Lighting/Sound: 1

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Copyright 2003 Seth Bisen-Hersh