Steve Martin has titled his new play “Meteor Shower.” Currently running at the Belasco Theatre, the comedy is as broad as the night sky above and filled with just as many stars and enlists the audience members to listen to and watch the actors on stage as they await occasional bursts of comedy that handily counterpoint the intermittent falling stars that stream across the panorama. The eighty-minute intermission-less comedy is filled with sporadic one-liners and some scenes that rely on farcical physical comedy delivered by the cast with acute timing and instinctive agility. Just when the plot starts to serve the characters with a faint inkling of depth, it falters, only to repeat the scene from a different perspective, not moving forward but providing an outlet for more sitcom one-liners. Director Jerry Zaks moves the piece along at a quick pace and certainly provides a sleek production that is pleasant enough to watch and seems to be over before it even begins. The production contains bouts of absurdity which struggle and conflict with the more straight forward comedic approach and nonlinear structure.
The plot finds Corky (Amy Schumer) and Gerald (Keegan-Michael Key) getting ready for invited guests Norm (Jeremy Shamos) and Laura (Laura Benanti) to arrive at their Ojai, California home to view the highly anticipated meteor shower. The foreshadowing in this first scene occurs during the discussion of the subconscious and the need to allow it to surface and deal with it; otherwise, it will take control. After some absurd, rather ridiculous occurrences, all providing plenty of laughter, begin to start repeating themselves to incur more laughter and a different point of view, the plot wears thin and the characters fall flat, one dimensional and portals for more one-liners. By the end of the play, it is certain that the couple visiting is their alter ego giving the audience a glimpse into the characters’ inner selves. Too little too late and who cares? It is much better to just enjoy the fun and ignore the pseudo substance.
The stellar cast is fine and probably makes the evening palpable by adhering to the slick direction of Mr. Zaks who obviously decided to surrender to lighthearted entertainment taking advantage of the actors’ irreproachable talents. Ms. Schumer is at her best when displaying her broad facial reactions and impeccable timing. Mr. Shamos relies on his adroit physical humor and coy delivery. Mr. Key gives a substantially subtle performance with absolute deadpan delivery and reaction. Ms. Benanti exudes sexuality in a shiny slip dress and easily seduces her counterparts with calm assurance. They are able to overcome the erratic and implausible script by Mr. Martin. It is merely an evening of amusement where the jokes are forgotten as fast as they are delivered, sort of like the meteors streaming across the dark sky during this lackluster theatrical shower.
The cast of “Meteor Shower” features Laura Benanti, Keegan-Michael Key, Amy Schumer, and Jeremy Shamos.
The creative team includes Beowulf Boritt (Scenic Design), Ann Roth (Costume Design), Natasha Katz (Lighting Design), and Fitz Patton (Sound Design). Casting is by Caparelliotis Casting. Production photos by Matthew Murphy.
Tickets can be purchased online at www.MeteorOnBroadway.com, via Telecharge.com or by phone at 212-239-6200, or by visiting the Booth Theatre box office (222 West 45th Street). For the performance schedule and for further information about “Meteor Shower,” www.MeteorOnBroadway.com. Running time is 80 minutes without intermission.
Photo: Keegan-Michael Key, Jeremy Shamos, Amy Schumer, and Laura Benanti in “Meteor Shower.” Credit: Matthew Murphy.