I wish I had more to say, but I’ll admit that I am at a loss for words after seeing Meteor Shower, Steve Martin’s absurd new comedy at the Booth Theatre. What does one say about an entertainment this lightweight, this pointless, this short?
I could start, I suppose, with an observation about the splendid cast and design team assembled by Jerry Zaks, the director, and the surprising amount of theatrical talent that has been squandered upon this absurdist soufflé. Or, I could just jump right into the issue of high expectations and low return; this production had one of the highest advance sales in recent memory, making it difficult to score a ticket, and even though the show is just slightly more than an hour long, it is still going to cost you about $2.50 a minute to sit in your seat and watch it. If you want any real return on that investment, I would start laughing on my way to the theatre, if I were you. Once you arrive, there are plenty of occasions to laugh, since Steve Martin has always been funny, and he has given his characters some very clever things to say. But the collection of funny bits and silly pieces of action that comprise this short evening in the theatre do not, at the end of the day, a whole play make.
So, let’s start with that. Set on a summer night in 1993 in a stylish modern house (with large windows, naturally) on the hills above Ojai, California during a display of the Perseid meteor showers, Norm and Corky are expecting guests. Boy, the couple that arrives couldn’t be ruder or more aggressive than Gerald and Laura, unwelcome interlopers right from the get-go, but Norm and Corky put up a good front, what with all the ensuing social discomfort and awkward moments that arise as the guests become increasingly aggressive, verbally and sexually. Jeremy Shamos and Amy Schumer haven’t been given very deep characters to play but they still manage to make comic hay out of their reactions to Gerald and Laura’s bizarre outbursts, and that is pretty much the rest of the play, until one of the characters gets hit by one of the - oh, never mind. Let’s just say, about halfway through this, it becomes clear that we are watching a cartoon, not a play about real people, and that it’s a battle between Norm and Corky and their subconscious selves, and under the Perseids streaking across the starry nighttime sky the tables are turned on the guests at the end, and we are let out of the theatre early, with the rest of the evening still ahead of us. This is definitely a show where you will want to make plans for after the show.
That’s all I’ve got. For people looking for a lightweight diversion prior to dinner, preferably with some laughs, this 80-minute, intermission-less confection with a seven o’clock curtain would seem to be the perfect occasion to dine at Joe Allen while everyone else is still at the theatre, but at just under $200 a ticket, that could make it the most expensive canapé hour in town.
(Photo by Matthew Murphy)
What the popular press says...
"Comic plays on Broadway these days are generally either knockabout farces like The Play That Goes Wrong or repurposed stand-up routines like Latin History for Morons. Comedy of the type that sustained the commercial theater for decades — verbal and domestic, often involving Jews — has petered out as a genre. Not even Neil Simon can get a decent revival. So it’s a pleasure to have Steve Martin’s Meteor Shower at the Booth Theater, where it opened Wednesday night in a slick production directed by Jerry Zaks and starring Amy Schumer. It’s definitely funny."
Jesse Green for New York Times
"Amy Schumer’s Broadway debut is no trainwreck. Her deft and daffy performance is a bright spot in wild and crazy guy Steve Martin’s “Meteor Shower” at the Booth Theatre. The play, seen in previous runs in California and Connecticut, is heavy with absurdity and modestly laced with laughs. But it has the lightweight feel of an extended, if not overextended, skit."
Joe Dziemianowicz for New York Daily News
"Despite a somewhat strained attempt to explain itself at the end, Meteor Shower never quite coalesces into a convincing whole. Its entertaining moments blaze, then disappear into an empty sky."
Adam Feldman for Time Out New York
"Schumer is one of four terrific performers who juice the entertainment of this high-sheen production, honed to within an inch of its life by Jerry Zaks. But neither director nor cast can disguise the lack of substance in the padded sketch material."
David Rooney for Hollywood Reporter
"Amy Schumer’s choice delivery of Steve Martin’s one-liners prop up this endearingly gawky comedy about mirror-image married couples."
Marilyn Stasio for Variety
External links to full reviews from popular press...