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Actors Comedy Lab Review: Wonder of the World Is a Real Knee-Slapper

July 17, 2003 - Raleigh, NC:


Wonder of the World by David Lindsay-Abaire (Fuddy Meers) is the type of R-rated off-the-wall comedy that Raleigh, NC-based Actors Comedy Lab makes its main course. And, as a result, Triangle audiences have feasted on a series of madcap comedies by the best contemporary comic playwrights.

ACL co-founder and director Rod Rich whips Lindsay-Abaire's comic soufflé into a tasty treat for open-minded audiences. Recent N.C. State University graduate Tracey Phillips is hilarious as Cass, a runaway wife determined to find her true destiny at Niagara Falls and kick out all the jams to lead a wide-open life to compensate for the past seven years of marital misery.

MaryKate Cunningham, who plays the suicidal alcoholic Lois with whom Cass shares a seat on the bus to the Falls, makes a perfect foil for the mercurial Cass. Lois is lumbering where Cass is fleet. Lois has brought her own pickle barrel to take a fatal ride over the Falls, whereas Cass has only the vaguest notion of what she will see and do while visiting this wonder of the world.

ACL newcomer Scott Franco is funny as Cass' sexually deviant husband Kip. (Discovery of Kip's unspeakably sordid secret life is what spooks Cass and convinces her she must flee her marriage to a pervert.) ACL veteran Kevin Ferguson is also amusing as earnest Capt. Mike, master of the Maid of the Mist. But Franco and Ferguson's main job is to play straight men for the wild women of the play.

ACL first-timer Jerry Zieman and ACL co-founder Bunny Safron are a hoot as a pair of bumbling private investigatorsthe husband-and-wife team of Glen and Karlathat Kip hires to locate his runaway wife. But Morrisa Nagel absolutely steals the show with her outrageous antics as a Southern tourist with pattern baldness, a helicopter pilot, three wild and crazy waitresses from exotic theme restaurants, and a kooky marriage counselor who arrives in a clown suit!

Set designer Bill Rodgers contributes a marvelous all-white set with Cass's crazy to-do list scrawled across the set pieces. And the outstanding work of lighting designer Jeff Besselmann, costume designer Vanessa Streeter, props mistresses Amy Flynn and Jane Stikeleather, and sound designer Tony Hefner also enhance this sidesplitting comedy.

Buy your tickets early. Thompson Studio Theatre has limited seating.

Actors Comedy Lab presents Wonder of the World Wedneday-Saturday, July 16-19, at 8 p.m.; Sunday, July 20, at 3 p.m.; and Wednesday-Saturday, July 23-26, at 8 p.m. in N.C. State University's Thompson Studio Theatre at the corner of Dunn Ave. and Jensen Dr. in Raleigh, North Carolina. $15 Thursday-Saturday and $12 Wednesday and Sunday, except $2 off for TheatreFest subscribers. 919/515-1100. http://www.actorscomedylab.com/upcoming.html.