Jessica John, John Rosen and Francis Gercke in "The Explorers Club." Photograph by Ken Jacques
Silliness rules in Lamb’s Players Theatre’s production of Nell Benjamin’s The Explorers Club, a balm as Lamb’s artistic director Robert Smyth suggested on opening night for all the grim current events swirling around us. Nothing is taken too seriously in this swiftly moving comedy about a vivacious female scientist (Jessica John) in 1879 London who desires to be a member of the all-male Explorers Club. Her calling card is a blue-skinned native (John Rosen, owning this show) she has brought to Britannia from a far-flung jungle country. Reacting with either beguilement or astonishment are the explorers, portrayed at Lamb’s by a rousing ensemble that includes Fran Gercke, Ross Hellwig, Paul Eggington, Brian Mackey and Omri Schein.
What happens in The Explorers Club is less significant than its good-humored nonsense, such as the fellas breaking into a song from H.M.S. Pinafore or the wacky choreography that accompanies the native-turned-barkeeper sending rounds of drinks flying down the bar. The sight gags also feature a beloved “cobra” and an equally beloved “guinea pig.” Their relationship doesn’t end well, by the way. Everyone (well, not the cobra or the guinea pig) is lushly costumed by Jeanne Reith, and the veddy English men’s club set by Mike Buckley is magnificent. (Review originally published in San Diego CityBeat on 8/23/17.)
David L. Coddon is theater critic for San Diego CityBeat