Thursday, August 20, 2015

Review: A Steampunk Space Oddity

Comedy is all about the perfect dynamic. The right jokes. The right people. The right situation. People say comedy is hard. But in this case, these guys made it look easy. The Curious Case of Phineas Gage got it all right. Devised by Split Knuckle Theatre and featuring the exceptional talents of Jason Bohon, John Egan, Greg Webster, and Andrew Lynch, The Curious Case of Phineas Gage is comedic brilliance. The story follows the Midtown Manhattan Entirely Factual Historical Re-Enactment Society of Medicine as they are here to tell the audience of the medical oddity Phineas Gage, a man who survived a blast that thrust a tampering iron through his face and out his skull, damaging his frontal lobe in the process. Sound dreary? The Curious Case of Phineas Gage is anything but. With a top-notch quartet, tight direction, and smart writing, this show has the potential to be the next The 39 Steps. To make this show unique, what begins as three scholars telling a practical story turns into three buffoons theorizing about the hilarious impossible. As the story catapults into space where PT Barnum is an alien summoner and controller of minds, the laughs get louder. And it's all thanks to the impeccable comedy talents of the company.
It's easy to pin point singular moments that the actors flourished in but this show relies on cohesiveness and they were a united unite. Each actor filled a certain persona and together they meshed. From physical comedy to expert deliveries, there is nothing they couldn't do. Jason Bohon John Egan, and Greg Webster as Father Witherspoon, Doctor Haugwitz, and Doctor Thomas respectively made their characters individual but entirely dependent on each other. From bonding to disputing, this show thrives on this special alliance. Andrew Lynch who was shoved in the corner to supply the evening’s music did an astonishing job as the one man band.
The show was tight. And director Vince Cardinal ensured every single moment landed. The production design by Paul Spirito certainly had the potentially to cause flow issues. And it did. But Cardinal and his team made sure to keep on going even if the chest was stuck or a prop flew a little too far. Fast paced comedy came easy for this team. But the simplicity of the garment rack as a projection screen and steampunk inspired props made you yearn for 1898.
It's hard to truly articulate why The Curious Case of Phineas Gage is good. It's an experience that needs to be seen. Expect this show to find its way to a venue real soon. These guys need another opportunity to have a blast on stage.