If you've ever pondered what Congoleum has to do with the Congo or if Burma-Shave ever had any real connection to Burma or if you steadfastly believe that Life Is Just A Bowl of Cool-Whip, then "On the Verge" is your kind of comedy.
It's not surprising to read that playwright Overmeyer was influenced by such absurdist writers as Pinter and Beckett. But "On the Verge . . . " is absurdism with a decidedly positive edge.Like "Waiting for Godot," you're in for a rather strange and ethereal expedition, but if you just go with the flow and enjoy the ride, this is a lot of fun.
It's sort of like "What if Mad Magazine published a travel guide?" This might be the result.
Brian Jones' other-worldly set immediately sets the tone for this bizarre trek across time and space. Ninety percent of the stage is covered with a large, feather-strewn disc, which has a sort of top-of-the-world aura to it, completely surrounded by a cloud-filled sky.
Across and around this spherical-shaped space travel three Victorian adventurers: solidly scientific Mary (who discovers an anthropological gold mine when she stumbles into a Nevada lounge show called "Girls-a-Poppin' "); romanticist Fanny, who enjoys reading True Trek, the tabloid for explorers; and ever-curious Alexandra, who has the assignment of Kodaking their sojourn, magically capturing images with a little box for future reference.
Director L.L. West has three wonderful actresses for this all-student production - Wendy Coburn as Alex, Julie Armstrong as Fanny and Rebecca Hess as Mary. They're all equally excellent and energetic as they traverse Overmeyer's strange and fantastic landscape.
The dialogue ranges from lyrical and humorous to outright weird and incomprehensive.
Oh, this play has eight other characters, too, listed in the program as simply "significant others" - and all played by the remarkably talented Brad Schroeder. The three-woman ensemble may be the center of the show, but Brad is the one who steals scenes right and left.
His diverse roles include an adorable baby abominable snowman, a cannibal named Alfonse, a proper Victorian gentleman, a bumpkin grease monkey, a super-cool '50s nightclub owner, and a rapping troll who lives beneath a rope bridge . . .
"You castigate the way I talk?
I'll agitate the way you walk!"
. . . the droll troll warns the three trekkers as they wobble their way across a deep gorge on his bridge.
"On the Verge . . . " is a play that demands split-second coordination between actors and the sound/lighting/technical crews, and all of these elements came together on opening night.
Bryon Winn's intriguing sound effects, which range from the ominous sounds of the dark, mysterious jungle to loud claps of thunder and the roar of a motorcycle, add to the show's sense of fun and adventure.
Excellent lighting also added considerably to maintaining the proper mood, from dusk in the jungle to a blinding flash of light when our travelers were being transported through time.
Catherine Zublin's costumes are nifty, too. The three Victorian time-travelers' outfits are staidly realistic, but Zublin gets to cut loose with all of Schroeder's changes.
Mary, Fanny and Alexandra embark as a team in 1988 on a journey that takes them into 1955, but they eventually go their separate ways.
The bottom line in "On the Verge, or the Geography of Yearning" is that we cannot resist the future.
Fanny decides that 1955 suits her to a T-bird and Alex finds a career writing catchy advertising jingles, but Mary learns that "the future is boundless, not annoying" and decides to plunge even further into the future - a mysterious world of revolving credit, slam dancing, software, hyperspace, significant others and Silly Putty.