Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Adrift in Macao"

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note: entire contents copyright 2007 by Beverly Creasey

Swimming in Laughter

A Review by Beverly Creasey

First the Huntington and now the Lyric celebrate the master of suspense this season. Evidently we love Alfred Hitchcock here in Boston. The Lyric Stage’s ADRIFT IN MACAO is an outrageous (How could it not be with Christopher Durang authoring the book and lyrics!) send-up of film noir married to a wacky “Where’s Waldo” of popular musical theater. ADRIFT (playing at the Lyric Stage Company through Feb. 2nd) is awash in silly intrigue punctuated by a tongue in cheek neo-‘30s score composed by Peter Melnick, who just happens to be Richard Rogers’ grandson. It’s all related in ADRIFT.

You’re giggling, in spite of yourself, at the preposterous stock characters (as in ‘laughing’), when all of a sudden you realize Durang is spoofing chestnuts like 42nd STREET (Director Stephen Terrell’s swirling choreography nails it to the wall!), WEST SIDE STORY (Pow!) – even Mr Macavity from CATS slinks in: “He’s here. He’s there. He’s everywhere.” For heavens sake, Durang even references himself with a rather familiar, moist insult or two.

ADRIFT looks like CASABLANCA, feels like THE MALTESE FALCON and sounds like all those shameless Charlie Chan movies…which brings me to my favorite character in MACAO. It’s about time someone held Hollywood’s bound feet to the fire. Austin Ku is nothing short of hilarious as the “inscrutable” houseboy, groveling to his boss and cursing behind his back. When his “real” identity is revealed, in joyous song, of course, he brings down the house, or rather, J. Michael Griggs’ wonderfully seedy bar.

Ku has his work cut out for him in the comedy department with Kathy St. George in the cast. When she mambos, flailing her arms about like a Malaysian banshee, you wish she’d gesticulate another ten choruses. Aimee Doherty, too, as the heart-of-gold Dame poured into the silver, skin-tight dress (designed by David Costa-Cabral), gets her share of laughs, as does Ariel Heller as our handsome hero, wrongly accused of (gasp) murder. Brendan McNabb as the cynical club owner knows his way around a gag. Kerri Jill Garbis and Neal Richard Lee as the Trenchcoat Chorus still have me in stitches from trying to keep up, choreographically, with St. George.

Durang has visited the movies before, in his cheeky A HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN FILM. Please, somebody, revive it – but until they do, ADRIFT will do nicely, thank you. Terrell and music director Jonathan Goldberg have assembled a crackerjack cast, not to mention a spectacular moon (lit from within by Scott Pinkney) which makes ADRIFT a nifty little romp to brighten a dreary day.

"Adrift in Macao" (10 January - 2 February)
140 Clarendon Street, BOSTON
1(617) 585-5678

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