It's no 2,000-year-old man

Something Different

By Carl Reiner
Directed by Rob Reese
Grin and Barrett Productions
Pelican Studio
Equity showcase (closed)
Review by Charles Battersby

Something Different is the only stage play ever written by Carl Reiner. Yes, THAT Carl Reiner. Meathead's Dad. This play is nowhere near hysterically brilliant Reiner's best work. Reiner's bio in the program points out that he once admitted that Something Different started as a joke to keep his secretary busy. That revelation isn't surprising, considering the poor quality of the script. The mediocre direction and sub-par acting in Grin & Barrett's production didn't help either.

Something Different is about a playwright who's writing a play called Something Different. He has an Oedipal complex and can only write if he has his mother present. To satisfy this need, he first tries to get his wife to dress up like his mother, then eventually hires a strange woman to do it. All of this proves to be almost funny, as in the scene where he auditions women to play his Jewish mother. One turns out to be Irish (Jean Liuzzi), another black (Christine Campbell), and the third a big-breasted ingenue. The Irish and black actresses gave the play's best performances (you'll never see a black girl sing in Yiddish so well), though Alicia Harding was miscast as the busty ingenue. Although Harding was quite sexy in a Kate Moss way, the constant stream of "big boobs" jokes fell flat when delivered by the waif-like actress.

As stated earlier, the play is about a playwright writing a play called Something Different. At one point the playwright character proclaims the quality of his work and screams "Something Different would be a hit even if were performed by the worst actors in the world."

This production suggested he might be wrong.

While they were not literally the worst actors in the world, the cast was far from the best. Leading man Chris Orf mumbled half his lines and bellowed the rest. The remainder of the cast offered better performances, but the far-too-energetic Orf got the lion's share of stage time.

Further compounding the problem of Orf's bellowing was Rob Reese's direction. The marginally funny humor of Reiner's script was trampled under the hooves of rampant over-the-top comic business. Not a single joke could be told without a flurry of double takes and "look, I'm telling a joke" mugging. The script's sexual innuendo was turned into lowbrow dry humping and ham-fisted "crotch in the freezer" gags.

Reese somewhat redeemed himself by designing competent lighting and sound. The set, by Glenn Reed, was actually the best part of the show. One of the gags is that Orf moves every piece of furniture from his mother's kitchen into his office, and Reed showed this well, though the set changes were excruciatingly long. Costumes (Nitra Gutierrez, Dorothea Maloney, and Terese Arena) were fun and often quite sexy (particularly on Harding). The costume team also displayed meticulous work in outfitting a pair of twins in identical costumes.

The cast certainly had fun on stage, but what the audience had was ... something different.

(Also featuring Jaimie Marrs, Nate Shelkey, Mesdames Ceballos & Green)

 Box Score:

Writing: 1
Directing: 1
Acting: 1
Sets: 2
Costumes: 2
Lighting/Sound: 1

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Copyright 2003 Charles Battersby