For that matter, similar things can be said about the play itself, which proves both serious and playful, as perfectly captured by the background music which introduces it, as a Beethoven Symphony melts into the jaunty theme of TV’s Jeopardy. And then there’s Martin’s hilarious dialogue, which early on has Norm asking his wife about that “book title” that’s on the “tip of my tongue”: something “like death to the cuckoo.” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” responds Corky.
Add to this the odd and surreal developments, such as the arrival of some “eggplants” with “no note” saying who sent them. “Must be from the Newmans,” posits Norm, before Laura and Gerald arrive for drinks and some surprising shenanigans. As many different times as the Newmans arrive, it’s always at Corky and Norm’s home in Ojai, California, originally in their posh living room and kitchen, and then, involving, on a revolving set (perfectly designed by Beowulf Boritt), their outdoor porch, to which they retreat to take in the eponymous “meteor shower”–only to engage in some other activities, as well.
As Norm says at the end of the first scene, “fifty to sixty meteors are expected per hour.” The many different scene changes are indicated by meteors shooting across the dark night sky on the rear of the set, as effectively lit by Natasha Katz.
And just as Laura says, “We’re not going to run out of meteors, It’s the Universe,” there seems to be no end to Martin’s odd notions. Even stranger than the inexplicable eggplants is learning that Corky was “once a cannibal,” when, 17 years ago, she was with her friend Kathy and “lost in the Himalayas for 47 days with no food.”
Directed with pizzazz by the reliable Jerry Zaks are the perfectly cast comedians Amy Schumer (Corky) and Keegan-Michael Key (Gerald), making their Broadway debuts, and stage veterans Laura Benanti (Laura) and Jeremy Shamos (Norm) who negotiate their various changes in personality with certainty. One moment you are sure to remember forever with hilarity finds hostess Schumer using her toes to offer her guest Benanti a celery stick. At the particular performance attended by this reviewer, the moment seemed to contain some delicious ad-libbing.
Meteor Shower (through January 21, 2018)
Booth Theatre, 222 West 45th Street, in Manhattan
For tickets, call 212-239-6200 or visit http://www.meteoronbroadway.com
Running time: 80 minutes with no intermission