Seven Homeless Mammoths Wander New England

 

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Seven Homeless Mammoths Wander New England

Directed by Jeremy Wexhsler

At Theater Wit, Chicago

The world of love and academia has many twists in George’s comedy

Playwright Madeleine George’s Seven Homeless Mammoths Wander New England is an over written comedy that still garners laughs despite several tedious monologues and some careless speech patterns. Dean Wreen (Meighan Gerachis) is having a tough week. The campus renovations are meeting with stiff resistance from the townies and her ex has returned to town suffering from terminal cancer. She insists that Greer (Laura T. Fisher) move in to her house so she can take care of her. Hoping not to complicate her relationship with the much younger Andromeda (Kristen Magee), the Dean is hopeful that the three can live together.

This comedy is spiced with cute scenes of two Early Man (Susaan Jamshidi and Casey Searles) in ‘frozen’ positions depicting per-historic couples while each express contemporary social comments in several hilarious scenes that comment on the play’s action or theme. Those interludes work much better than the monologues by the soon to be closed Mammoth Museum caretaker (Steve Herson). Every few minutes, usually during scene changes, we hear Herson render a biting speech mimicking local newspaper reports about the college’s closing of the museum and its aftermath. Some of the tedious monologues even cover the police blotter of local calls.

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Mammoths is an ambitious comedy that has twists on academic politics, the worthiness of a small museum as well as romantic relationships with a middle aged woman and a much younger woman. This sex comedy has unique twists that emerge when a 20something Andromeda- a New Age advocate – loves a pure academic and now is thrust into living with a dying doctor of philosophy. These exchanges are witty and quite funny. In act two, as Greer is growing sicker, the tone shifts as Andromeda becomes the main caregiver to Greer as Wreen is bogged down with campus business.

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The quirkiness of George’s script is marred by over writing, especially the newspaper-inspired monologues and the irritating speech patterns from Meighan Gerachis in the play’s early scenes.  Most of the laughs were lost by Gerachis as she raced through her lines in such a rapid-fire fast pace with her low volume mumbling that she sounded like a Kentucky tobacco auctioneer. Such running of words together so quickly rendered much of what she said in the first 20-30 minutes of the play to be both incoherent and killing of potential laughs. I hate to be the one who comments on such fast speech patterns but the distinct lack of laughs at the performance I attended is proof that mumbling and speaking so fast does kill funny lines. It seemed that Gerachis, a veteran Equity actress, was nervous. This hurt the early scenes that established the Dean as a cynical academic yet a caring lover.

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What saved the comedy for me was the  terrific work by Laura T. Fisher and Kristen Magee with disciplined turns by Susaan Jamshidi and Casey Scarles. This play could use a 20 minute trim but as now presented, it still has enough originality to be worthy. If Gerachis would slow down and enunciate, more laughs would result.

Recommended

Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

Date Reviewed: March 23, 2014

For more info checkout the Seven Homeless Mammoths Wander New England page at theatreinchicago.com

At Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont, Chicago, IL, call 773-975-8150, www.theaterwit.org, tickets $36, $22 for students,  Thursdays thru Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 3 pm, running time is 2 hirs, 25 minutes with intermission, through April 27, 2014