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Jessie Cannizzaro and Jevon McFerrin. PC Jim Cox

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Old Globe stages a fantastic production of Ken Ludwig’s hilarious The Gods of Comedy

‘The Gods of Comedy’ must be crazy
By David L. Coddon for San Diego City Beat

Ken Ludwig’s The Gods of Comedy does not require its audience to have any previous knowledge of Greek mythology. They need only have a sense of humor and an affinity for farce that, from the very outset, swings for the fences.
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Brad Oscar, Jessie Cannizzaro and Shay Vawn. PC: Jim Cox

The gods in Ludwig’s world-premiere comedy at the Old Globe Theatre are Dionysus, the god of comedy (Brad Oscar, seen last year in La Jolla Playhouse’s The Squirrels) and Thalia, the muse of comedy (Jessie Cannizzaro). The two are inadvertently summoned from Mount Olympus to the modern day by Daphne (Shay Vawn), a frazzled young academic who is wearing a magical necklace given to her by a street vendor while abroad. Frolicking and cracking wise like a seasoned vaudeville duo, the gods are there to help poor Daphne recover a priceless ancient manuscript she has misplaced.

That’s the tension of the play, such as it is, but it serves as the pretext for Ludwig’s broadly conceived characters to cut up, quip, mistake identities and make frantic entrances and exits from the stage. Devotees of Ludwig’s wackier comedies, such as Lend Me A Tenor and Moon Over Buffalo, will be right at home with this new show. So will Old Globe patrons who recall Ludwig’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery and Robin Hood! in previous engagements at the Balboa Park theater.

Predictably, Oscar and Cannizzaro walk away with The Gods of Comedy, emboldened by the go-for-broke script and some clever stage effects that allow them and George Psomas (playing the armored, uber-macho god Ares) to show off their powers. But the supporting cast, directed by Amanda Dehnert, holds its own. The petite Vawn is thoroughly charming. Jevon McFerrin nimbly affects exasperation as the professor who first discovers the valuable manuscript (Euripides’ lost tragedy of Andromeda). Steffanie Leigh and Keira Naughton shine as well, playing a vamping film actress and a donation-hungry college dean, respectively.

As is customary at the Globe, the sets are gorgeous, with Jason Sherwood designing the stage here. The autumnal playground created onstage is evocative of a prestigious eastern college that allows the visiting gods, and those in their sphere, to provide two hours of familiar but enchanting entertainment.

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