note: entire contents copyright 2004 by Beverly Creasey
Forget wit in the face of adversity. A bloodcurdling laugh will always get you through the bad times. See Christopher Durang’s delicious LAUGHING WILD (at the Huntington’s new BCA digs) and you’ll see what I mean. As that other Wilde and crazy playwright used to say, “Life is too important to be taken seriously.”
Debra Monk is the fabulous—and a wee bit frightening—WOMAN whose modus operandi is the tilted back head, full out shriek of a cackle solution to any sticky situation. Mind you, you might be wary if you encountered her at the local Stop & Shop but on stage she’s gloriously, spectacularly unhinged, delivering advice to us on keeping it all together.
She’s actually Everywoman—without the control that keeps us from shouting at crying children or telling street musicians to put a sock in their saxophone. It must feel great to shed those inhibitions.
Durang—who started the whole “religion as theatrical fodder” movement with the savagely funny Sr. MARY IGNATIUS (and whose characters jumped into each other’s dreams years before anyone else did it…and whose A HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN FILM is one of the most hilarious plays I’ve ever seen) plays MAN to Monk’s WOMAN. He’s a Caspar Milquetoast who’d like to face the world head on but a “residue of anxiety” keeps pulling him back.
The two characters encounter each other in the tuna aisle at the grocery, with disastrous consequences: She thinks he is deliberately blocking her way. He is temporarily catatonic. When an immovable object meets an irresistible force…as they say, well, something wild will happen.
Durang writes delectable dialogue for the war between the sexes ( all sexes) and happily, he’s also portraying the MAN who is a hopeless refugee from a positivity workshop. He’s the sucessor to Wally Cox, frantically brushing negativity from his brow, worrying about the surprises life could hurl in his direction.
Act II’s filmic recreations of Act I’s tuna surprise (way before GROUND HOG DAY!) will have tears streaming down your face. In short, it would be foolhardy to miss LAUGHING WILD. Monk’s exploding chortle is reason alone to go. I’m practicing mine even as you read. Watch out world. The Safeway is no longer safe.