Laughing Wild
Reviewed by David Kashimba
Photo by Jeff Thomas

Laughing Wild, written by Christopher Durang, is an outrageous comedy about the high anxiety world we live in. Now playing at Petaluma’s Cinnabar Theater, Laughing Wild stars Laura Jorgensen and John Craven as a woman and a man who drive each other crazy over a can of tuna fish at their local supermarket.

Sounds a little farfetched, doesn’t it? But it’s always the relatively mundane incident that can set people off these days. The play starts with the woman’s account of how this guy at the market drove her up the wall because he stood in front of the tuna fish display and read the label on each can. You see tuna is the only dish she knows how to make. It goes well with the only thing in her small apartment’s refrigerator – a jar of mayonnaise. She’s a pretty skinny gal – perhaps it’s all that nervous energy that burns off the mayonnaise – and she has a hungry look in her eyes. But her hunger doesn’t stop at food. She hungers for everything, especially human companionship.

Now that’s where you come in. Her way of releasing some of her nervous energy is by talking to the audience. Ever wonder why you feel like committing suicide after having sex? Well you should give it some thought before seeing the show, because it’s the kind of question she likes to ask the audience. While her questions take you off guard, they also make you laugh. There is freshness in Durang’s comic lines that are at once outrageous and true. The crazier the woman gets, the more she asks the audience: “Doesn’t everybody feel this way? Or is it just me?” Though the audience is never pressed to give her a verbal answer, we all know that the reason we’re laughing so hard is because everything she says rings true. Even if it’s only a dull ring in the depths of our unconscious, our laughter shakes it loose, and we begin to realize that this woman isn’t as crazy as she seems. She’s simply caught up, like the rest of us, in the high anxiety of our 21st century lifestyle. And what’s her lasting message to all of us before she exits the stage? “Don’t forget to breathe.”

“Oooooommmmmm,” the male character chants as he tries to restore some calm and semblance of order to his life. Then he tells his version of the tuna fish story and how the woman hitting him in the head over a can of tuna dramatically disturbed his sense of wellbeing. With the woman, it was therapy that was one of the main ingredients that prevented her from going totally mad. With the man, it’s more a search for a great yoga-like calm heavily dependent on Buddhist meditations. Yet no matter how hard he strives to remain calm, through breathing exercises, the high anxiety world he lives in usually gets the upper hand.

After the intermission, the two characters are brought together in tuna fish dreams about each other and eventually make some semblance of cosmic physical contact. Jorgensen and Craven are fantastic comic actors and must have tapped into a little of their own inner madness in order to get the tremendous energy to play these characters. As far as the part played by the audience – except for a few easily offended by religious jokes – they were all laughing wild.

For tickets or more information call (707) 763-8920 or visit www.cinnabartheater.org.

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