I was going to walk the critics walk at first, but I smartly gave Charles Ludlam’s classic farce The Artificial Jungle from the Theater of the Ridiculous Company a little longer to warm up before tip toeing out the door. This 1986 broad absurdist comedy which takes place in a New York City pet store is now playing at the Clurman Theatre on Theater Row. It surprised my inpatient mind with plenty of amusement once it got rolling, though it needed to percolate a little sooner. Everett Quinton directs this campy storytelling of goofy Chester Nurdiger and his sexy jaded wife Roxanne, who crushes on a grifter, who ends up working at the pet store under the watchful eye of Mother Nurdiger and family friend, erstwhile police officer Frankie Spinelli (Rob Mnutoli) while the illicit couple canoodle something brutal against Chester.
Anita Hollander, Mama Nurdlinger is really the stand out actor here. She is broad while being extremely adorable with multiple comic details to her performance and Roxanne, Alyssa H. Case makes a good, but incomplete attempt to get to the more nuanced objectives. I felt that the male characters of Zachary Slade played by Anthony Michael Lopez and David Harrel as Chester needed to work on keeping it broad while keeping it balanced. It was a pleasure the nonetheless. Pay attention to the fish tank.