If there’s one thing that Studio Players does consistently well, it’s tickle your funny bone.
David Lindsay-Abaire’s Wonder of the World is no exception. Directed by Carly Moreno, Wonder of the World is a madcap comedy about a woman, Cass (Aly Miller), who ditches her husband for a bucket list adventure in Niagara Falls after discovering he has hidden a truly shocking fetish from her for years.
She befriends her Greyhound bus seat partner Lois (Abby Reeve), a suicidal alcoholic who is determined to kill herself by going over the falls in a pickle barrel — her husband, who abandoned her, hates pickles. Her death will be sweet, pickle-flavored revenge.
Cass declares Lois her sidekick, marks “get a sidekick” off the long list of things she always wanted to do, and the pair embark on some Thelma and Louise-style adventuring, including Cass’s impromptu romantic conquest of Maid of the Mist ship captain, Mike (Kody Kiser). Throw in a heartbroken, mewling husband (Jeremiah Reeve) and a couple of fourth-rate private eyes (Debbie Sharp and Pat Ryan), and you’ve got yourself some bona fide hijnks.
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The play embraces its zaniness with a self-aware sense of kitsch. Projections by Eric Seale complement David Bratcher’s set design to create an interesting contrast between the natural beauty and majesty of the falls and the cheap motels and cheesy theme restaurants that have sprung up around it.
The same contrast holds for the characters’ marriages, for beneath the wacky veneer, the play is largely a comedic meditation on marriage, with Lindsay-Abaire using the honeymoon destination and the various couples’ romantic plights to explore the mysteries and missteps of the heart.
Miller and Abby Reeve are a lively duo and effectively drive the show’s snappy pacing and comedic timing. Jeremiah Reeve’s Kip is alternatively sympathetic and just plain pathetic as the jilted husband who desperately wants Cass back — dude cannot take a hint and Reeve plays up his relentless optimism with comedic panache.
Sharp and Ryan inject even more hijinks into the show with their portrayal of squabbling husband and wife Karla and Glen, who have turned to private detective work to pay off debts.
Kody Kiser brings the lone voice of sanity to the production with his portrayal of Captain Mike, an all-around good guy who falls for Cass and shows her that her future is wide open and promising. Kiser’s character tempers the zaniness of the show and serves as a reminder of the majestic, non-kitsch version of love. So what if he has a Costco addiction.
Finally, the show’s most memorable performance goes to Kathryn Velonis in multiple roles, including a marriage counselor dressed as a clown. Originally performed by Amy Sedaris, the role is a huge opportunity for an actress to sink her teeth into – a juicy, wild one – and Velonis does it with relish. Velonis has always had a penchant for comedy and it’s nice to see that developing.
The show is not a masterpiece, but it is good, solid fun, like a road trip with your funniest friend.
Candace Chaney is a Lexington-based writer and critic.
If You Go
‘Wonder of the World’
What: Studio Players’ production of David Lindsay-Abaire’s comedy
When: Through Jan. 31. 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. 2:30 p.m. Sundays. Note: The Jan. 22 performance has been cancelled due to weather. Ticket holders will be contacted Jan. 25 to exchange tickets for different performances. Jan. 22 ticket holders wishing to attend the Jan. 23 or 24 performances can exchange their tickets at the theater on the day of the show.
Where: Carriage House Theatre, 154 W. Bell Court
Tickets: $21 general audiences, $11 students