Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Verinika Vavoom, Vulcanologist"

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note: entire contents copyright 2003 by Beverly Creasey

Bubbling Brimstone
at Theatre Works"

Reviewed by Beverly Creasey

Boston Theatre Works is one of the very few companies around which develop new plays. Hats off to Jason Southerland et al for their brave efforts, especially in the light of funding cuts to the arts. One of the plays in their upcoming "New Plays Festival" (may 29 - June 1) will be chosen for next year's main stage line-up....which is where "Veronica Vavoom, Vulcanologist" came from last year.

VV is a "Tomb Raider" kind of gal (like the Angolina Jolie character in that film) BUT instead of heading to ancient Egypt, Veronica makes for Colombia and in place of tombs she investigates active volcanoes, risking her life to rescue stranded climbers (and tourists).

"K2" the masterful play about two climbers stranded atop a mountain, got niftily into the psychology of adventurers, but Olga Humphrey's script for "VVV" rappells wildly between the serious and the comic, leaving the audience confused about the play's intentions. (J. Michael Griggs' set could pass for icy peaks without Stephen Boulmetis' fiery red lights.)

We're given serious textbook descriptions of schizophrenia and of the geological make-up of volcanoes, then it's descending into "Beach Blanket Bingo" territory. At one point the forward momentum is jerked to a halt and we retreat to flashback, turning the best comic character into Veronika's mother. (Maureen Keiller makes both characters pop.)

Jennie Israel (who deserves a more flattering costume) harumphs around besting all the men and saving the world singlehandedly, but sometimes even a good climber can get tangled up in the lines. Jonathan Silver is thoroughly charming as the troubled teen Veronika takes under her wing. Christopher Brophy makes the most of the ex-boyfriend role and Amy Barry does a cool frug, but I'm still trying to figure out how Puccini got into the mix!

Jason Slavick's actors try mightily but they just can't keep the volcano from running out of steam. Then again, maybe I'm just more into laughter than lava.

"Veronika Vavoom, Volcanologist" (2-18 May)
Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, 949 Commonwealth Avenue, BOSTON, MA
1 (617) 939-9939

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