Wonder of the World
Lindsay-Abaire’s 2000 play employs a timeworn device: Aghast upon discovering her husband’s kinky tastes, a young woman embarks on a picaresque journey of self-discovery, determined to do all the things she hasn’t in the course of her seven-year marriage. It’s a pitch that goes as far back as Ikiru (1952) and persists in latter-day fare like Last Holiday and The Bucket List. Plucky heroine Cass has a list of her own but only makes it from the Port Authority to Niagara Falls before her past catches up with her; the script doesn’t take an audience much further, exhausting itself in a manic first act, then floundering.
Lindsay-Abaire, a sometime Durang protégé, won a Pulitzer in 2006 for Rabbit Hole, which means he’s either come a long way or something else. The candy-colored absurdist lite he plies here is pretty sophomoric, a fugue of non sequiturs that devolves into gimmicks and Dickensian coincidence when it runs out of steam.
But neither the forced wackiness nor the theoretically funny humor manage to knock the grin off this LiveWire production’s face. Cass (Madeline Long) and sidekick Lois (Chris Blumer) have an energy and rapport that outclass the material, and costume designer Darcy Hofer’s inspired use of infomercial fave the Snuggie still has us smiling. The production team’s evocation of watery environs, from sound to set to lights, is lucid. And, to be fair, the “sexual deviance” MacGuffin Lindsay-Abaire has cooked up is a doozy. But even standout Joel Ewing, boldly buffoonish as creepy hubby Kip, just seems tired out by the time this too-long trifle ends.