by Tony Ortega
I had the distinct pleasure of viewing the opening night performance of Easy Laughter, a play written by Doctor Who scribe Robert Shearman. For those of you who are not familiar with his work, he wrote the infamous Doctor Who episode “Dalek”, which re-introduced one of the Doctor’s arch nemeses to NuWho. Being the good fanboy that I am, I jumped on the chance to meet Mr. Shearman, watch this play, and see if I could get any scoops on the new season of Doctor Who. I was not disappointed in any area. I will do my best to avoid any and all spoilers, which is a very difficult for me to do.
Easy Laughter introduces us to the Simpson family as they prepare for the impending Christmas holiday (or as it is referred to in the play – Christtide). The play explores puritanical family dynamics, extreme religious-ity (Christ in His infinite compassion), gender roles, sexual practices, and family secrets. The play starts off very comical but begins this descent into a very dark place, revealing a very different side to the Simpson family. The play pushes boundaries quite a bit and for this sci-fi/comic/theater/shrink geek, caused many visceral responses as the show went on. It reminded me that while a family may look all perfect on the outside, however, the darkness that may lie behind closed doors is another matter entirely. Don’t be fooled by outward appearances folks.
The acting was simply brilliant. The intensity that the actors brought to their roles was palpable. I must give kudos to Michael Broadhurst, Nick DeMatteo, Jay William Thomas, Tana Sirois, and Maria Swisher. They were simply amazing tackling these very difficult subjects. This brilliant dark satire could not have come to life as it did without this amazing cast and Mr. Shearman’s amazing writing.
Easy Laughter is playing through May 10, 2015 at The Alchemical Theatre Laboratory (104 West 14 Street, New York, NY). I highly recommend that you see it, but beware, it is not for the faint of heart or the easily offended.
I also had the pleasure of speaking with Mr. Shearman about Doctor Who. He gave me a lot of juicy behind the scenes tidbits. However, he asked that I only share one thing. I grilled him about Peter Capaldi’s stoic and borderline Asperger portrayal of the Doctor. Mr. Shearman told me that folks who have been concerned about this will be pleasantly surprised this coming season. I will hold you to that Mr. Shearman. It was a pleasure to meet you and watch your brilliant play.