Monday, February 22, 2016

Review of The Explorers Club at Windy City Playhouse

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called The Explorers Club. It was by Nell Benjamin and it was directed by David H. Bell. It was about a club called The Explorers Club during the Victorian era. They were preparing for a presentation to the queen. There is also a kind of love triangle going on between Lucius (Alex Goodrich), Phyllida (Cristina Panfilio), and Percy (Ryan Imhoff). I say "kind of" because one of them just likes her for her looks and for being a woman. Phyllida isn't taken seriously as a scientist by most of the people in the club because she is a woman. Professor Sloan (Dan Rodden) thinks she will be a distraction because he thinks all women are harlots. Phyllida's work is amazing though because she finds this group of people called the NaKong who Europeans didn't know existed. And she introduces this one person named Luigi (Wesley Daniel) who is one of the NaKong to the people at The Explorers Club and he provides a lot of the comedy and I found him hilarious. I want to watch the scenes he was in again and again. I thought the whole show was hilarious. It was farcical and had lots of jokes that were simple but still hilarious. I was very involved with the story at all times and I loved all the performances.

This was one of the most I-know-exactly-who-I-want-to-get-the-girl love triangles I have ever seen, and that person was Lucius. He actually thought that Phyllida was a smart and cool person. The problem with Percy was that he was a complete sexist but he was a complete womanizer, which is the worst combination. Girls would fall for him, but only for a second because they would realize he was kind of a jerk. All the things that he says are so brainless. He is an explorer and his goal is to find the East and West Poles, but there clearly are not any East or West Poles, geographically speaking, and that is kind of hilarious, but also kind of sad. All the people who go on his expeditions always die or get left behind, like Beebe (Graham Emmons). He literally puts on an old costume from HMS Pinafore to go into battle, which shows you how dimwitted he is! Phyllida, it is pretty clear, only really likes Lucius. She was a very smart and lovable character, but she also has some bad times, just like any person, like when her friend from NaKong slaps the queen in the face!

Throughout the show they had this cool very circus-like thing that they did, where Luigi would throw glasses at different people and it was amazing how they would just catch each of the glasses at the very last moment. The drinks sometimes also splashed on the floor so you know there was liquid in the glasses. I thought that looked super cool and I kind of wanted to learn how to do that. The running joke about the drinks is that every time Luigi makes a drink he says "There you go, sir" and slides it off the bar without looking. The drinks are sometimes not good, but one time he finds a masterpiece. Luigi is tending bar because their bartender is missing and they are trying to hide Luigi from the Queen's secretary, Humphries (Colin Morgan), who is coming to find him. I found Humphries' accent just hilarious and amazing because it was so over the top, but it was over the top in a really funny way. It was very posh and sophisticated, but then over time it just got weirder and weirder, not sophisticated anymore--just plain odd.

There was one person who was obsessed with snakes named Cope (Zack Shornick) and one person who was obsessed with guinea pigs named Walling (Matt Browning). They were best friends and they become enemies over time. Snakes and guinea pigs don't mix, so you could kind of see that something might go wrong. But I did not exactly expect how it would go wrong, just like I didn't expect any of this show because everything was so crazy and unexpected. And every time the characters would try to mime something to each other because they were trying to be quiet and careful, Cope would think that they were trying to play charades and he would try to play along and try to guess. Most of the time they were in a dangerous situation, though, so it would be a bad idea to play charades when they were under attack by Irishmen! And he is not very good at guessing. Each time he guesses, he guesses snake. And when it is finally snake he makes a huge hoopla out of it and goes crazy.

People who would like this show are people who like NaKong bartenders, charades, and the East Pole. This show is really just a lot of fun. It reminded me of Black Adder or Monty Python. I laughed so much. I kind of want to go see it again!

Photos: Michael Brosilow

No comments: