Wonder of the World
by T.E. Klunzinger
For a flat-out hilarious evening with some Seriously Troubled people, you must run, not walk, to see Wonder of the World at Riverwalk Theatre. Director Shannon Bowen marshals a top-notch cast through split-second timing and finely-choreographed scene changes to achieve a cascade of comedic high points which will leave you breathless with laughter.
NOTE: There are some four-letter words sprinkled throughout, but all for comic impact.
There is a plot, sort of: New Yorker Cass (Sarah Hayner) has decided that after seven years of marriage to Kip (Adam Carlson) she made the wrong choice and is setting out on a voyage of self-discovery, first stop Niagara Falls. She soon encounters Lois (Erin Hoffman) who is bringing her own barrel to the Falls to End It All. Once at the Falls, there are Karla (Susan Chmurynsky) and Glen (Mark Zussman), somewhat inept detectives whom Kip has hired to find Cass… who has now found Captain Mike (Joe Dickson) on the Maid of the Mist. And then there’s the sublimely talented Laura Croff, who is…. many things.
The second act is essentially a group therapy session, the likes of which you have never seen before, if only because it is led by a clown. There’s no logic here, but it’s very funny.
All this is performed on an essentially bare stage enhanced by backscreen projections and occasional videos, and a multitude of scene changes with a lot of rolling stock which probably took almost as much time to perfect as did the performances. There are as many running crew as there are actors (seven).
Kudos to the props people (Diane Cooke, Mara McGill, Bernie Lucas, Melody Stratton) for creating believably detailed items, some of which are seen only briefly.
As the show’s linchpin, Hayner consistently channels the sweetness and manic energy needed to propel things forward. Hoffman is a hoot as the tough-talking alcoholic bent on self-destruction (it’s a lot funnier than it sounds) while Carlson creates a sad-sack blandness which masks a horrifying secret.
Oh, and the clown costume (Anna & Kris Maier) is spectacular.
Wonder of the World continues through April 9 ($10/$8 on “Bargain Thursdays” at 7 pm) 8pm Fri/Sat & 2pm Sun ($15/$12) 517-482-5700