It takes effort to make a marriage work -- sometimes even self-help tapes, movies and therapy sessions. Corky (Amy Schumer) and Norm (Jeremy Shamos) have been at it for years. Yet they are ill-equipped to handle the challenges of their visitors, Laura and Gerald, when they come to view a meteor shower at their home (a stunning black and white modern scenic design by Beowulf Boritt).
In Meteor Shower, the new play by Steve Martin, Corky and Norm prepare for their guests not realizing that the pair has an ulterior motive in mind for their marriage -- “total collapse.” Directed by Jerry Zaks, the play provides a lot of laughter, aided by the presence of two skilled standup comedians. Martin includes several funny lines as well as physical humor (Laura does a sexy dance between scenes to show off and later Corky does the same one – with different results) and visual humor (the anonymous gift of three eggplants).
Schumer gets appreciative applause from the audience but is slightly stiff as the earnest and naive Corky. She’s better at physical humor than at dialogue and is hysterical at times. When Gerald comes onto her and makes pointed remarks about her anatomy, she grabs a pillow, then a second and a third. Her facial expressions are priceless. Keegan-Michael Key plays the arrogant, narcissistic Gerald and delivers much of his dialogue bombastically and dramatically, as if everything he says is earth-shattering. Both Schumer and Key are making their Broadway debuts in the comedy.
As Laura, Tony-winning actress Laura Benanti, lovely as usual, wears a form-fitting gold dress and moves exceedingly well. She is sexy and a master at delivering a subtle insult, through word or glance. Shamos, a highly experienced actor, is pretty much low-key until after a meteor strikes him, and he “dies” only to return with a hole in his chest. Then he gets to show his skills at physical comedy.
Martin mocks the marriage counseling techniques of the ’90s, especially when Corky and Norm stop the flow of their conversation, take each other’s hands and “reflect” on their feelings. The dialogue and plot get a bit raunchy at times and might be offensive to some, especially when in the last of the alternative stories, Corky and Norm get a call, warning them of the intentions of the visitors. Then the couple must “Defend and Protect” and they go on the offensive.
At first, the comedy is a bit puzzling. Why are Gerald and Laura coming to wreck the other couple’s marriage? Gerald barely knows Norm and Corky’s never met either of them. Why does the action begin again and again? Are Corky and Norm really Laura and Gerald? Quite frankly, I don’t think most of the audience cared. They just seemed to have a good time.
Perhaps the lesson is that if a “Rain of Fire” attacks a marriage, a couple can withstand it together or with a lot of laughter.