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Meteor Shower

Comedians Amy Schumer and Keegan-Michael Key make their debuts on the Great White Way in Steve Martin's first Broadway comedy.

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Amy Schumer in a scene from Steve Martin’s “Meteor Shower” (Photo credit: Matthew Murphy)

David Kaufman

David Kaufman, Critic

Steve Martin’s old/new wonderful comedy, Meteor Shower, is about two California couples getting together for the first time–again, and again, and again. Like Groundhog Day, it keeps starting all over again, with ensuing variations. And in the course of its brief, 80-minute, intermission-less duration, the couples have exchanged more than just words and ideas. By the end, they seem to have exchanged their personalities as well. The passive Corky has become more aggressive, and the overly assertive Laura has become less sure of herself. Similar reversals could be said about their respective husbands, Norm and Gerald. As Norm even says of Gerald, he’s “kind of two people.”

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.

Keegan-Michael Key, Jeremy Shamos, Amy Schumer and Laura Benati in a scene from Steve Martin’s “Meteor Shower” (Photo credit: Matthew Murphy)

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

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David Kaufman
About David Kaufman (78 Articles)
David Kaufman has been covering the theater in New York since 1981. A former theater critic for the New York Daily News, he was also a long-time contributor to the Nation, Vanity Fair, the Village Voice and the New York Times. He is also the author of the award-winning Ridiculous! The Theatrical Life and Times of Charles Ludlam, the best-selling Doris Day: The Untold Story of the Girl Next Door, and his most recent biography, Some Enchanted Evenings: The Glittering Life and Times of Mary Martin.

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