One of the few concrete beliefs I have adopted thus far in my life is that while there is undeniable value in hard work and serious thought, it is equally vital to let oneself go and be silly from time to time. That being said, after three grueling days at the office, I was not in a great mood Wednesday evening. I needed some way to unwind and lighten up, and thankfully, I found the perfect cure for my midweek funk in Indian Ocean Theatre Company’s Waiting for the Trigger. The show may not be profound or polished, and it may not even make sense much of the time, but damned if it isn’t the funniest, most purely enjoyable theater experience I’ve had in a long time.
Waiting for the Trigger, showcased in a comfortable, chic performance space at the Goethe Institute, can best be described as a madcap variety show, an unfiltered comic brainstorm ripped from the fertile imagination of writer/director/producer John Sowalsky. Described in the program as a collection of Sowalsky’s random insights about the Fringe experience, the show follows two friends – sweet, impish writer Em, played by Elizabeth Heir, and sarcastic, practical producer C, played by Eternanda Fudge – as they try to craft a successful original production for the annual “Edge” theater festival. What follows is a parade of unpredictable, gut-busting scenes exploring various comedic relationships and situations, each drawing inspiration from a different twisted corner of Em’s (and therefore Sowalsky’s) wacky brain.
My favorite vignette, which I believe is an accurate microcosm of the show’s daffy plot, follows Little Mary Moonlight, played by a deliciously unhinged Natalie Blank, as she acts out her romantic fantasies with GI Joe and Barbie dolls. At C’s urging, Em suddenly rewrites the scene as a twisted domestic encounter, presenting the audience with a hilarious conversation between a grownup Mary and her on/off boyfriend, the strange and dutiful Joe, played by Grant Cloyd. The show offers many ridiculous, memorable moments, but none will stick with me longer than Joe’s non sequitur, “That’s one cold steel muzzle you got pressed against my meatball”.
There’s really no easy way to summarize Waiting for the Trigger; its random scenes are all over the map. Any fan of the absurdist humor, slapstick, and wordplay of Monty Python and the Marx Brothers will feel right at home, as the play takes many stylistic cues from those beloved comedic institutions. Some of the sections do run a bit long and try to squeeze too much from a single metaphor or gag, which could be an issue for some audience members, but it did little to dent my personal enjoyment. Overall, the show is a delirious and welcome departure from reality, and I would encourage anyone to take the ride and experience the same childlike glee I felt last night in the Goethe Institute.
Waiting for the Trigger
Written & Directed by John Sowalsky
Produced by John Sowalsky and the Indian Ocean Theatre Company
Reviewed by Ben Demers