Ken Ludwig’s The Gods of Comedy
Photo: Jim Cox.

Ken Ludwig’s The Gods of Comedy

By Ken Ludwig

Directed by Amanda Dehnert

Old Globe San Diego

May 11 – June 16, 2019


Website

Sometimes, when you go to the theater, you want deep thoughts and pathos that slaps you repeatedly in the face. And sometimes you want campy, stupid fun. The Gods of Comedy is the latter.

Set mostly on a modern college campus, the story follows classical scholars Daphne (Shay Vawn) and Ralph (Jevon McFerrin) as they try to move forward in their shared profession. Daphne is zeroing in on tenure, and Ralph is looking for any trace of Euripides’ lost play, Andromeda.

Finding a fragment from Andromeda, even a single word, would make Ralph’s career. So, when he retrieves a complete copy, hidden in plain sight, it’s a life-changing epiphany. Sure hope they don’t lose that priceless manuscript.

Anyway, after the manuscript is lost, Daphne calls on the gods for help, and – lo and behold – Dionysus (Brad Oscar) and Thalia (Jessie Cannizzaro), the muse of comedy, appear to save the day. From there, it’s a series of pratfalls, bug-eyed wonder and gods showing these mere mortals all the cool things they can do. No low-hanging fruit goes unpicked – a hind can be a deer or, you know.

The show moves forward in fits and starts. The gods have to spend a lot of time proving they are actually gods to cynical mortals. But eventually the mortals get it and the gods can actually do stuff.

Oscar and Cannizzaro bring the full zany, and you’d have to be comatose not to laugh. They’re not good helpers, but who really cares? Cannizzaro, in particular, shows off a sprightly energy that keeps the production moving. Vawn and McFerrin have harder jobs trying to make their stiff, academic characters lighten up. Still, their childlike wonder at all things ancient is quite endearing.

But the comic prize goes to George Psomas, who plays a Greek named Aristide, a Russian named Aleksi and a god named Aries. He spends less time on stage but gets all the good lines.

While The Gods of Comedy may be silly to the point of pain, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Bring a healthy helping of willing suspension of disbelief and leave your brain at home – it’ll only get in the way.

San Diego ,
Josh Baxt has an MFA in creative writing from San Diego State University and writes for a local nonprofit. His play, Like a War, was produced for the annual Fritz litz. Josh's short fiction has been published in the anthologies Sunshine Noir and Hunger and Thirst, as well as the journal City Works.