Culture Monster

All the Arts, All the Time

« Previous Post | Culture Monster Home | Next Post »

Theater review: 'Wonder of the World' at Victory Theatre Center

October 2, 2009 |  2:00 pm

WotW0195-press-copy Cass (Elizabeth Bond) has a problem. She’s just discovered a dirty little secret in her husband’s sweater drawer. Very dirty. To give the details away would spoil half the fun of “Wonder of the World,” David Lindsay-Abaire’s bright comedy of disappointment, now receiving a thoroughly entertaining staging by SeaGlass Theatre in Burbank.

Cass flees her apologetic spouse, Kip (Ian Vogt), and makes for Niagara Falls, the place her parents were heading when they crashed to avoid a beaver. The pilgrimage is just one of the things on her new to-do list for life, which includes skydiving and witnessing a lethal injection. The latter is “more of a long-term goal,” she explains to Lois (Kimberly Van Luin), an alcoholic planning to kill herself at the Falls. Well, everyone needs a project.

Lindsay-Abaire, who won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for the more somber “Rabbit Hole,” has a keen sense for the bad choices people make for good reason. If “Wonder’s" connect-the-dots Freudianism can feel overly on the nose, the playwright’s rapid-fire exchanges keep you all ears for the next joke or swift removal of an emotional Band-Aid. “I love Cass,” Kip explains to Lois, “It’s like … she doesn’t know that anymore.” Lois: “No, she knows. She just doesn’t care.”

Director Neil Wilson gives each scene plenty of snap, aided by a game ensemble. As Cass, a role originated by Sarah Jessica Parker, Bond finds the sweet spot between giddiness and mania; her shining eyes beam equally with excitement and fury. Vogt’s Kip is perfectly hangdog, while David Ghilardi provides essential counter-balance as a mellow captain giving atmospheric tours of the Falls. And Jen Ray makes the most of her many small roles, including a helicopter pilot with a fear of heights and a hilarious trio of theme restaurant servers. 

If the production has a hitch, it’s Damon Fortier’s bedroom set, which is literal in a way that doesn’t serve the sketch style of Lindsay-Abaire’s writing. “Wonder” ultimately lives in a Niagara of the mind, where change feels as exhilarating and scary as sailing down the rapids and going right over the edge. 

-- Charlotte Stoudt

“Wonder of the World,” Victory Theatre Center, 3326 W. Victory Blvd., Burbank. 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 4 p.m. Sundays. Ends Nov. 1. $22.  (818) 841-5422. Running time: 2 hours, 15 minutes.

Photo: Kimberly Van Luin and Elizabeth Bond in "Wonder of the World." Credit: Ed Krieger