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Directed by Gregg W. Brevoort

Lost Nation Theater
Montpelier, VT


the Times-Argus
Lost Nation Theater Opens Zany Durang Comedy
By Jim Lowe, Times-Argus Arts Editor

– “Wacky and Wonderful”

MONTPELIER - Christopher Durang’s comedy Laughing Wild is zany even to the point of being surreal at points - yet it offers keen and witty insights.  On Friday, Lost Nation Theater opened a production of this hilarious comedy that ranged from witty to ridiculous, yet was often poignant.

Lost Nation veterans Maura O’Brien played Woman and Daniel J. Sherman, Man, two super-neurotic urban Americans at odds with life.  Beginning with reminiscences of both, the two come together for the wacky and wonderful finale.

Woman begins by telling of an unpleasant encounter she had with a man at the supermarket.  She was looking for tuna fish only to find a man doing the same thing.  Apparently he didn’t have the good grace to know he was holding her up, so she began becoming more and more irritated, and finally seething.  So instead of asking him to let her in, she hits him on the head and runs out of the store.

Quite simply, Woman cannot cope with life.  In order to alleviate her loneliness, she joins Alcoholics Anonymous – though she isn’t an alcoholic.  After she embarrasses herself there, a man is nice to her – so she goes to bed with him.  And that makes her want to jump out of the hotel window, so it’s back to the mental institution.

Woman may seem to be out of her mind, but her ruminations hit home just a little too often for comfort.  And the same can be said for Man, who delivers his own reminiscences.

It soon becomes apparent that Man was the man whom Woman bopped in the supermarket.  He is largely unhappy, and decides to change himself through self-improvement courses.  He is determined to become positive, full of self-motivation and esteem, but constantly finds himself faltering.  He hasn’t even been able to decide what his sexual orientation is, which leads to some amusing ideas.

What the two have in common is that they are unhappy and they are angry about it.  During the third act, the two come together – first in dreams, then in reality.  And it’s about as whacked and wicked as Durang could make it – yet surprisingly touching in its humanity.

The Lost Nation Theater production, directed by Gregg W. Brevoort, benefits from two excellent performances that worked both separately and together at Friday’s opening night performance.  O’Brien was able to make her deeply disturbed character sympathetic as well as funny.  One mental health professional in the audience admitted to be uncomfortable with the realism.  Yet O’Brien successfully combined humor and pathos.

Sherman’s Man was also very real – and very funny.  At first very together, then unraveling, Sherman made it all very believable.  And though you might not have wanted to, it was hard not to relate.  And the two played off each other beautifully.

Particularly effective was the lighting design by Lost Nation’s co-artistic director, Kim Bent.  That was complemented by an attractive set by Eddie Freund, costumes by Rachel Kurland and sound design by Fred Wilber.