Reviews and Press for
Laughing Wild
from the New Orleans Times-Picayune (2001) and Southern Voice Weekly (2001)

Review: Laughing Wild

By David Cuthbert, theater critic, New Orleans Times-Picayune, 18 May 2001

In Christopher Durang's Laughing Wild, we meet two wildly neurotic New Yorkers whose paths, dreams and lives intersect as they're "laughing wild amid severest woe" (Samuel Beckett in "Happy Days" quoting Thomas Gray).

The Woman, played with flippant intensity by Amy Woodruff (think Kathy Randels lite) hates people who block the supermarket tuna fish aisle, taxi drivers, Sally Jesse Raphael, the Pope, and anyone inclined to be happy. "My favorite book is Bleak House," she says, amending, "not the book, just the title."

Daniel LaForce engagingly plays The Man, who's trying to purge himself of negative feelings, though it seems not to be working. He has particular problems with God and why He chose to visit a terrible disease like AIDS on homosexuals, hemophiliacs and heroin users, "apparently waiting until 1978 to do this, even though homosexual acts have been going on for considerably longer than that, at least since 1956."

This very Durangesque ground is covered in separate act-monologues, converging in a third act meeting that sets off comic sparks (especially when the Man metamorphoses into the Infant of Prague) and allows its characters to come to terms with themselves and each other.

This is a production of Theatre Louisiane, a young group of capable artisans that does well even by lesser Durang (which this is). Performance and presentation are first-rate, despite the rudimentary venue of the Pickery.

One should be aware that the Pickery is a non-air-conditioned warehouse space and was warm enough last weekend that the theater should provide hand fans.

to Woodruff's artist page | to Theatre Louisiane

Reviews: Purlie, As Bees in Honey Drown, Laughing Wild

By Roberts Batson, theater critic, Southern Voice Weekly, 17 May 2001

St. Charles Avenue is reclaiming its reputation as a center for theatrical activity, a history that began in 1835 when James Caldwell built the St. Charles Theatre to compete with the Creole's French Opera House in the Vieux Carre. This exciting development became obvious last week when the Ty Tracy Theatre and Le Chat Noir, venues only two blocks apart, launched exuberant new shows on the same night. Although these two stages have very different purposes-the Ty Tracy Theatre is the New Orleans Recreation Department's theatrical arm, while Le Chat Noir is Barbara Motley's elegant cabaret club-both their current hits are perfectly appropriate choices.

NORD has the musical "Purlie," based on Ossie Davis' play "Purlie Victorious." A pre-show disclaimer cautioned audiences that the script is set in pre-civil rights racism, so the dialogue is expectedly peppered with words you wouldn't hear in polite conversation today. The opening night audience was far too sophisticated to misunderstand this folk tale and expressed their sentiments with a standing ovation and cheers.

Director Ty Tracy leads an extremely attractive cast to an evening of on-the-nose moments. Leo Jones, who also provides choreography and vocal direction, carries off the title role handsomely, mixing charm with gravitas. Carmen White, as Lutiebelle, affects a peculiar accent that almost renders the dialogue incomprehensible, but that doesn't get in the way of her delivering a comic tour-de-force. Also first-rate are Sandra Richards and Phillip Watson, the comic couple, and Bob Gault as the old racist plantation owner.

Down the street at Le Chat Noir, Brava Productions is delighting audiences with the Southern premiere of Douglas Carter Beane's comedy, "As Bees in Honey Drown," a fable of contemporary New York life in the fast lane of celebrity self-promotion. Alexa Vere de Vere, played with convincing flair by Francine Segal, is a mad glamorous diva in the mold of Mame Dennis Burnside and Holly Golightly. But "Bees" has a harder edge than "Auntie Mame" and "Breakfast at Tiffany's."

That doesn't stop the fun on Chat Noir's stage, though. Peter J. Callahan is genial as a young writer that Alexa manipulates, and a quartet of versatile actors plays all the other roles. All are outstanding: Bob Edes, Jr., Kristopher Kael, Mary Lee Gibbons and Leah Loftin. Director David Hoover does a bang-up job with staging that is both functional and imaginative, and he is aided in both by the contributions of his design team: David Raphel, Tony French, Su Gonczy, Jason Knobloch and Tony Pierce.

In the neighborhood, but off St. Charles Avenue-actually off-off-off-Avenue down by the wharves-is the Pickery, where Theatre Louisiane is presenting Christopher Durang's Laughing Wild.

It's a demanding script that requires two actors-playing a gay man and a deranged woman-to perform an act-long monologue each. Both actors turn in finely drawn characterizations. Amy Woodruff has the harder task, as Durang gives the character very little to like. And Daniel LaForce shines in a precisely etched performance.>

to Woodruff's artist page | to Theatre Louisiane