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September 2, 2014 > Theatre Review: Caution: barrel of laughs ahead

Theatre Review: Caution: barrel of laughs ahead

By Julie Grabowski

What if you didnÕt have the life you thought you were supposed to? What if you could start fresh with nothing but possibility ahead? Well, youÕd high-tail it to Niagara Falls, of course, taking up a search for fate, signs, and that elusive beast called clarity.

When she discovers a startling secret about her husband after seven years of marriage, Cass packs her bags, determined to leave the Òodious monsterÓ and Òtwo-faced deviantÓ behind her. On a bus headed to Niagara Falls she reviews her sorely neglected bucket list and meets Lois, a cranky, suicidal alcoholic, whom she pounces on in order to cross off #81: Get a sidekick.

Although they are set on divergent roads -- Cass driven to fill herself up with as much life as she can and LoisÕs determination to go over the Falls in a pickle barrel -- the two stick together and fall in with other off-beat characters trying to make their way. Wrestling with lifeÕs absurdities and cruelties the group discovers unexpected connections and finds that the universe seldom reveals a true and perfect path.

David Lindsay-AbaireÕs comedy ÒWonder of the WorldÓ is a vividly punchy story about the choices we make, the mistakes that canÕt be repaired, and learning to accept what we have and to carry on in spite of it all. Director Dale Albright delivers an effervescent mash of emotions and action that builds into a crescendo of thick and wild entertainment in the funnier act two.

Diahanna Davidson is flawlessly fabulous as Lois and is the standout of the show. Whether tossing off barbed lines or quietly pulling a face, her body language and delivery are perfectly tuned and hilariously striking making Davidson a screaming hit.

While Cass calls herself Òa tall glass of sparkling cider,Ó Eden NeuendorffÕs performance is more like a can of Red Bull. With endless energy and a cranked up volume, she instills a fever pitch that keeps the show on a high but at times can feel like too much. Davidson and Neuendorff are a terrific pair of opposites who mesh well together and create a compelling, watchable team.

As former yarn salesmen turned private detectives, Kendall Tieck (Glen) and Michaela Greeley (Karla) are another great duo who easily play off each other and the rest of the cast. Greeley is delightfully sharp and vinegary and has some great moments of her own.

Kip is hardly an endearing character, but Drew Reitz creates a sturdy presence that comfortably folds into the group, and Jeffrey Hoffman is a steady-handed and playful Captain Mike.

Tina Rutsch is kept busy with six supporting roles, but flies her comedic flag fly at its highest as marriage therapist/clown Janie. Rutsch hits all the angles of this complicated, wacky lady with a casual precision that strikes true and is wonderfully funny.

ÒWonder of the WorldÓ is a fun and zany ride, which might have you thinking twice about your life and inspire you to get out there and start making checks on your own bucket list.

Tickets are $29 for adults, $24 for seniors 60 and over, and $21 for juniors. Discounts are also available for TBA, KQED members, and groups (10+). A Pre-Show Talk will be held at 7:10 p.m. Friday, September 5, and a Post-Play Discussion will follow the Saturday, September 13 matinee.

Wonder of the World
Thursday, Aug 28 - Sunday, Sep 21
8 p.m., matinees at 2 p.m.
Douglas Morrisson Theatre
22311 N. Third St, Hayward
(510) 881-6777
Tickets: $21 - $29

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