Coleman Domingo’s “Wild with Happy” is a Rompling Road Trip.
Colman Domingo’s “Wild with Happy” is a Romping Road Trip
TheatreWorks is currently presenting Coleman Domingo’s hilarious comedy “Wild with Happy” direct from the Public Theatre in New York. Written by and starring Tony nominated (“The Scottboro Boys) Colman Domingo, the comedy concerns Gil, who’s 40 and adrift after the death of his soulful mom. Gil is a black, gay, cynical, Yale-trained out of work actor. He has now lost his most stable lifelong relationship with his mother. The briefed son been summoned from New York to Philly to dispose of her body and personal effects.
Gil faces some crazy characters that appear in this fast pace comedy including Terry a New Age gay funeral director who has the hots for him, a gayer then and best friend Mo and Aunt Glo a meddling relative.
Gil wants a simple burial but the professional cordial funeral director suavely shows Gil the many options for coffins. He mistakenly sizes up Gil and describes the beauty of oak as “simple but classic, like a Chanel suit, only $4,995. “How about Liz Claiborne” cracks Gil. He decides a basic cremation package, thank you very much. Of course Aunt Glo is fit to be tied when she hears of this. “Our people don’t do that” she scolds Gil when she learns of the cremation.
The plot shifts lanes to fanciful territory when Gil with a jar of the cremated mother and his pea cocky pal embark on a road trip toward a resolution. They are trailed by Gil and the funeral director who uses a chip in a Cinderella doll which Aunt Glo immediately sized from the material wealth of the deceased mother. The doll for some unknown reason has a tracking devise. They all end up in the Cinderella suite at Disneyland in Florida.
“Wild With Happy” mixes sass and sentiment in a manner that suggests a hipper, gay-friendlier version of a Tyler Perry play. It has fairy-tale aspects and it concludes with wonderful sets including a terrific set of the Cinderella suite of a hotel at Disney World thanks to Erik Flatmo.
Coleman Domingo is an high-spirited performer and a convincing storyteller and he is generous allowing other characters occasionally to outshine him. Sharon Washington is outstanding especially when she ramacks her dead sister’s closet and begins trying on the dresses. (“A little high in the heel for me, she says, interrupting her screed to size up a pair of pink pumps, “but she would want me to have these”) She is terrifyingly funny and completely engaging. Richard Prioleau gives a faultless performance as the new funeral director torn between wanting to be smooth salesman and a holistic New Age practitioner. Duane Boutte is perfectly campy as Gil’s actor friend Mo.
Direction by Danny Scheie is smart and imaginative as are the colorful costumes by Brandin Baron and Lighting and Media Designer David Lee Cuthbert.
“Wild and Happy” plays through June 30th at the Mountain View Center for Performing Arts, 500 Castro Street, San Francisco. For tickets please call 650-463-1960 or on line at www.theatreworks.org Coming up next is “The Loudest Man on Earth” by Catherine Rush opening on July 10th and running through August 4th. It plays at the Lucie Stern Theatre, 1305 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto.