The Explorers Club
The Explorers Club
By Nell Benjamin
Directed by Dave Russell
Starring Eric Pinder, Heather Leonardi, and Simon Needham
Mad Cow Theatre, Orlando FL</strong>
We just can’t get enough sex and science this weekend: tonight we land in Victorian London as the upstart Explorers Club meets. Overshadowed by those smarty pants at the National Geographic, the Explorers Club works to build their reputation in a world exploding with exploration and rationalism and sexism. Like your first grade tree house, the Explores Club demands “No Girls Allowed.” But Miss Phyllida Spotte-Hume (Leonardi) enters with news of a lost and unpronounceable city along with a native she nicknamed “Luigi” (Ryan Gigliotti). Mild mannered vice president Lucius Fretway (Pinder) proposes Phyllida for membership and maybe something more, but the guys aren’t buying it. Loutish Harry Percy (Needham) arrives having “misplaced” the rest of his party as they searched for the East Pole. He brushes Lucius aside and the romantic expedition is underway. In a small diplomatic faux pas Luigi bitch slaps the Queen, so Sir Bernard Humphries (David Alameda) arrives demanding the location of Luigi’s homeland so they can wipe it out. Now it’s time for someone to take a stand and defend the colonials, and maybe win the girl. Huzzah!
“The Explorers Club” takes broad slapstick comedy and Victorian melodrama to new highs of hilarity. The set could be a gift shop at any jungled themed attraction, and Luigi brilliantly combines bartending with slow pitch softball to deliver both drinks and laughs. Along with Pinder’s natural fretfulness and Needham’s “What-ho!” charm, there’s a strong company of comic actors rotating throughout the night. Kevin Zepf is Professor Cape, a snake fancier and venomologist, and his closest friend is Professor Walling (Dennis Enos) who specializes in the small mammals Cape’s snakes prefer to snack on. Professor Sloan (Glenn J Glover) works in historical Biblical Archeology, he’s looking for the lost tribes of Judah in all the easiest places he can reach. Ms. Leonardi takes an assertive and spunky role, she’s done excellent field work and rightly demands recognition from those clearly not as clear headed as she. And David Alameda’s Sir Humphries is everything you could want a British civil servant to be – stiffly dressed, stiffly officious and flexibly brutal. He would fit right in at the DMV.
I’m sure we can all find some fiber filled lesson on women’s rights and indigenous autonomy, but this show isn’t here to make you feel superior. It’s a zippy collection of silly action, physical comedy and top notch comedians working in perfect harmony. Maybe Mr. Percy will never find the West Pole or his party, and maybe Luigi will make a dent in London drinking society’s foreheads, but I can tell you this: several members of the cast accused me of laughing at them. Guilty as charged – may I have another please?
For more information on Mad Cow, please visit http://www.madcowtheatre.com