The laughter begins almost immediately in WONDER OF THE WORLD. Cass Harris is leaving her husband of seven years, Kip, because she has found out his guilty secret. I won’t reveal the secret (no spoilers here), but it involves the name Vivian. Kip is, naturally, distressed, but even there, the script plays it for comedy. And the laughs follow and follow and follow.
Playwright David Lindsay-Abaire, who won the Pulitzer for RABBIT HOLE, has exploded onto the stage with a zany and hilarious story about relationships and their funny side.
Claire Drake is almost perfect as Cass as she tries to complete her early life bucket list of the things she needs to do. As Kip, Walter DeShields plays the distraught and uptight husband with convincing and very funny angst.
Along the way to Niagara Falls, Cass meets and takes as her “sidekick” a suicidal drunkard named Lois Coleman, played with wide eyed inventiveness by Maggie Davis. Davis is a perfect foil for Drake. Kip (remember? the husband…) hires an inept duo of private investigators named Glen and Karla played expertly and wringing all the comedy out of their roles are Robb Hutter and Ginny Kaufmann. Cass meets up with Captain Mike of the Maid of the Mist and a romance ensues. As the good natured and gentle Captain Mike, Roderick Slocum is appropriately baffled and solid in his role.
Adding a good touch to the merriment, Hilary Kissinger is really funny in several bit parts. This is ensemble performance of a high order.
Director Kaleo Bird has gotten all of the players to the utmost in playing the humor. The play is written in short episodes but the set by David Ward ingeniously makes it work. I was particularly pleased with the scene in three cafes at once. Leilani Macomber’s lighting design was spot on and helped the set work.
The script weakened in the second act, but it’s very hard to sustain the inventiveness of the beginning. I congratulate Allens Lane Theater for a job well done. If you need a good laugh (and these days who doesn’t?) don’t miss this comedy gem.
WONDER OF THE WORLD
BY David Lindsay-Abaire
Directed by Kaleo Bird
May 4-19 2012
Allens Lane Theater
Allens Lane and McCallum Street
Philadelphia, PA 19119