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The Explorers Club

a Comedy
by Nell Benjamin

COMPANY : Aurora Theatre [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Aurora Theatre [WEBSITE]
ID# 4701

SHOWING : March 26, 2015 - April 19, 2015



In this madcap comedy, female explorer Phyllida Spotte-Hume delivers proof of her discovery of a lost civilization, a brightly blue-painted tribesman she calls Luigi. But, are the most gifted minds in Victorian England ready to allow a woman to be a member of the prestigious Explorers Club? What happens next could shake the very foundation of the British Empire. Grab your goggles for some very mad science involving deadly cobras, irate Irishmen and vines gone wild.

Director Jaclyn Hoffman
Luigi Tim Whitson
Professor Cope George Contini
Beebe/Irish Assassin Steven L. Hudson
Professor Sloane Chris Kayser
Lucius Fretway Tony Larkin
Harry Percy Chad Martin
Phyllida Spotte-Hume/Countess Glamorgan Courtney Patterson
Professor Walling Al Stilo
Sir Bernard Humphries Jacob York
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Sublime Silliness
by playgoer
Sunday, March 29, 2015
"The Explorers Club" deals with a woman explorer attempting to enter an all-male organization, the interactions among the club members, the club members’ obsessions, romantic longing, fighting Tibetan monks, an Irish protest, civilization of a blue-painted native, and a declaration of war against the native’s "lost" homeland. Yes, it flings its comic targets far and wide, then proceeds to shoot a bull’s-eye in each.

Jaclyn Hoffman has directed Nell Benjamin’s script to highlight every comic situation, and has encouraged each actor to develop a uniquely off-kilter personality. Tony Larkin plays a shy, savvy botanist that we all root for. Chad Martin plays a pompous, womanizing blowhard that we all root against. George Contini and Al Stilo play professors entirely too attached to their animal companions. Chris Kayser plays a misogynist religious professor intent on finding the lost tribes of Israel. Jacob York plays Queen Victoria’s private secretary, prone to prolonging syllables, and Steve Hudson plays Beebe, an abandoned explorer taken in by Tibetan monks. Tim Whitson plays a blue-painted savage with a limited knowledge of English, but a special talent that is revealed only as the play ends. Courtney Patterson is the sole female in the cast, playing both an intrepid explorer and her identical twin sister.

The action takes place in the liquor lounge/assembly room of a men’s club, engagingly designed by Lizz Dorsey with woodsy flair and tricked out with Ryan Bradburn’s eclectic props. The décor is all faux animal heads and gargoyles, letting us know from the first glance that the show doesn’t take itself very seriously. Elizabeth Rasmussen’s costumes, Robert Miller-Navarre’s wigs, and Kevin Frazier’s lighting design all add to the visual flair. Thom Jenkins’ sound design provides appropriate scene-changing music and outside crowd sounds. The physical aspects of the production are terrific, equaling the excellence of the comic acting and the precision of the blocking.

At the early performance I saw, the show was stopped four times by applause – once after Steve Hudson’s show-stopping turn as Beebe and three times after flawless execution of a stunt involving drinks sliding along the bar in rapid sequence. Oh, and the curtain call got a lot of applause too. It’s all silly and light-hearted, with loose ends tied up in inventive ways. Sublime. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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