Wonder of the World
nytheatre.com review by Amy Bradley
June 11, 2010
Pull Together Productions' rendition of Wonder of the World by David Lindsay-Abaire is a fun, entertaining piece of theatre. Presented in the intimate Shell Theatre right off Broadway, the lively familiar tunes of the pre-show music get the audience in the mood for this story of love and loss. The lights come up on Cass (Katherine McLeod), quickly packing her suitcase when she is interrupted by her husband Kip, played by the peppy Aaron Blakely. He is astounded that she is leaving him, so he begins to beg her to stay using many different methods. She brushes all of his advances off nonchalantly, presenting the protagonist Cass as a childlike, rash individual who doesn't care about how she affects others, making the quarrel merely impolite, not life-changing.
The comedy in the writing is realized when the terrifically hysterical character Lois, played by Kate Benson, meets Cass on her way to Niagara Falls. Benson plays the raging alcoholism in Lois supremely and introduces the theme of lost love into the play. Her performance is moving because her high notes are high in laughter and her low notes are low in sorrow. The audience laughed with her character's off-the-wall silly antics, as well as pitied her sad state of affairs with her ex-husband and her serious drinking dependency. A commendable performance by Benson, truly the character in the show you wanted to keep watching.
The set changes are done quite creatively with the entire cast involved. Quickly moving from different locations, director Brian Gillespie completely utilizes his stage very well. His use and reuse of different props and set pieces to fit into different scenes is innovative and heightens the comedy.
As the show continues the supporting cast constantly grows stronger with the introduction of Michael Poignand as Captain Mike, Cass's love interest, and Bryn Boice, who brilliantly embodies five vastly different characters throughout the story. The diversity and rapid changes between each one showcase her poise and talent. The elderly couple in the show, Glen and Karla, played by Tom Ligon and Evangeline Johns, truly bring the comedy to a height as they play secret agents, spying on Cass with their silly methods and outlandish behavior towards each other. The strength of the supporting cast however overshadows the weakness of the protagonist Cass, played by Katherine McLeod. Her performance is flat and lacks struggle on her journey to self-discovery. Her energy is sky-high but her moments need fluidity and solidification when jumping from subject to subject. As an audience member I couldn't feel for her character because I couldn't follow her thought process.
A scene with merit is the climactic newlywed game, facilitated by a kooky clown therapist named Janie, played by Bryn Boice. She tests the couples' knowledge of each other by asking them very odd questions and receiving even odder answers. The energy builds upon itself and the moment is shocking and takes you completely by surprise. Overall the play is very well directed with laugh-out-loud humor. It is definitely entertaining, if not moving.