Friday, April 6, 2012

review - The Boomerang Effect

RECOMMENDED
The Boomerang Effect
by Matthew Leavitt
directed by Damaso Rodriguez
Odyssey Theatre
through April 29

Not unlike Neil Simon with his zippy one-liners coming at you fast and furious, Matthew Leavitt has fashioned a very uptempo ultra-modern comedy about relationships in The Boomerang Effect that manages to slip in a substantial message or two whilst tickling the funny bone. Now onstage at the Odyssey a terrific cast of 10 all sleep in the same bed - well, separate pairs of course - and engineer a slick and well-intentioned comedic evening of theatre.

One highlight of the play is that it does not focus on one kind of relationship but on a variety of couplings: married, living together, a gay partnership, and the perils of two different one-night stands in the workplace. A neat trick that playwright Matthew Leavitt utilizes throughout is connecting the scenarios by having one of the characters either related to or friends with another in an adjacent scene, lending an added touch of reality/familiarity to the whole. Like for example married Stephanie (Kim Hamilton) from Chapter 1 has given friend Renee (Tiffany Lonsdale) in Chapter 2 advice on how to improve her love life, according to Renee; businessman Alexander (Charles Howerton) in Chapter 4 is the father that David (Jonathan Slavin) discusses in Chapter 3. Alexander's one-night stand Julie (Kat Bailess) is the sister of Janetta (Liza de Weerd) in Chapter 5.

It seems that no one's life is totally happy or free from strife. The marrieds of Chapter 1 must face an unexpected pregnancy; Chapter 2's couple are less problematic with purely sex related issues, but to them they're astronomical - and therein lies much humor; Chapter 3's gay couple - perhaps one of the funniest, are also having sexual problems but which include a third party via e-mail; Chapter 4's are testier with an open 'do it or lose your job' harassment; Chapter 5's a less complicated throw caution to the wind one-night affair with a married man, but still very uncomfortable for both parties, who must pay a price.

And the title? Janetta explains the boomerang effect: no matter how hard a person may try, the result is most likely a slap in the face, causing each and every person's eternal unhappiness. Paul (Luke McClure, above), a bag boy at a local market and certainly an unlikely candidate for parenthood, takes a more positive stance: despite all the resultant negativity, there's a greater, long-ranged good to be experienced.
The entire ensemble deliver superb performances: along side McClure, Hamilton, Lonsdale, Slavin, Howerton, Bailess, and de Weerd are Will Christoferson (Adam Kitchen played Andrew the night I attended), Emerson Collins and Joel Bryant, each actor delivering full-out committed work under the skilled direction of Damaso Rodriguez.

After watching the first three scenes in each of which one partner complains about the other's nagging or lack of sexual desire, I was starting to turn off due to the repetitiousness. Somehow, Chapter 4's sly sexual gameplay made me perk up. After Chapter 5, with riveting de Weerd and Bryant surprisingly getting only one scene, the one-act goes backwards to conclude with Chapter 1, giving the other 4 couples two scenes apiece. A wheel of life moving in two directions with a couple of pauses for thought and plenty of laughs.

4 out of 5 stars

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