Mad Gravity – it’s the law at Flying H Theatre
by Jim Spencer and Shirley Lorraine
Many plays billed as comedies often have only sporadic comedic moments. Not so with Mad Gravity, the current production at Ventura’s Flying H Group Theatre Company. The laughs start in the first 60 seconds and continue constantly to the final blackout.
Mad Gravity is a 21st Century farce from the fertile mind of playwright William Missouri Downs. It features frenetic layers of physical action, literate dialogue and situational complications, all exquisitely blended and choreographed into a remarkably cohesive piece of theatre by the skilled hand of director Larry Swerdlove.
Here are the basics. Archie (Taylor Kasch) and his wife, Eudora (Brenda Evans), are free spirited, performance artists of the absurdist school of theatre. They have installed spectator seating throughout their house and invite audiences to watch as they live
out their lives as performance art. Akin to reality TV, they view it as 3D Reality Theatre without the glasses. Archie finances their efforts with a “government arts grant,” as he calls unemployment insurance.
Their teen daughter, Dakota (Sam Sullivan), has announced her love for a classmate, Tommy (Trent Trachtenberg). So, Archie and Eudora have invited Tommy’s parents, Joe (Scott Blanchard), a local dentist, and Mary (Angela DeCicco), to a get acquainted dinner in their home. Unfortunately, nobody has clued-in Joe and Mary about Archie and Eudora’s life style or that there will be an audience on one side of the room during dinner.
But wait, there’s more. A TV news anchor announces a comet is being pulled toward earth and there is a high probability everyone, including the audience, has only an hour to live. This leads to a series of events and confessions that heighten the hilarity
and furthers the chaos, even after the comet ultimately fails to make direct contact.
Major issues are resolved in the second act, which is very short (only one page in the script), and, as a finale, the meaning of life is revealed to the audience (really).
The cast is a tight ensemble and the actual audience is very much a part of this production, giving an additional dimension to the experience. Although Archie implores the cast not to break the fourth wall, it is frequently shattered, to the delight of all. We especially enjoyed how the material was personalized with local references to heighten the feeling of being intimately involved in the couple’s antics.
The Flying H is known for providing unique theatrical experiences. We highly recommend this one. Mad Gravity plays weekends (plus a Thursday performance on September 17) until September 19 at the intimate Flying H Group Theatre Company, 6368 Bristol Rd. (between Johnson Dr. and Victoria Ave.) in the Montalvo area of Ventura. All seats $15. Cash or check only at the door. Reservations recommended 901-0005. Advance tickets on-line at http://madgravexampleity.brownpapertickets.com. No late
seating. Doors open 30 minutes before show time: 8 p.m. Thur/Fri/Sat and 4 p.m. Sun.