nytheatre.com review by David Gordon
July 19, 2010
There is a target audience for the 90-minute sex comedy called Viagara Falls. That target is certainly not me, but if you fall into one of these groups, it may be you.
The first is the people who find the ideals, sexual habits, and bodily functions of the elderly hysterically funny.
The second is all those fans of classic television, the people who gasped with delight when it was announced pre-show that the cast—Bernie Kopell (of The Love Boat fame), Lou Cutell (a character actor best known for playing the proctologist known as "The Assman" on Seinfeld), and Teresa Ganzel (a Johnny Carson gal)—would be taking comments and signing autographs in the lobby afterwards.
The third audience is the obsessive theatergoers; the ones who see every show playing in the hopes of finding the next big fat flop.
If you recognize yourself above, head on over to the Little Shubert Theatre to see this piece of work, co-written by Cutell and a young Brazillian playwright named Joao Machado.
The first group will laugh whenever lines like
I walk into the market and I stop cold. I blank. I think, "What the hell did I come in here for?"
Wet Handy Wipes! You can never have enough. I buy these at the 99 cent store. They're cheap, but you have to supply the wet!
are uttered. They'll also laugh when the penis is called a "tootsy wootsy," when the characters mention hemorrhoids or any kind of gastric disorders or just in general at the prospect of two elderly men like Charley (Cutell) and Moe (Kopell) taking Viagra and ordering prostitutes for a night of "tootsy wootsy"-raising passion.
The second group will no doubt enjoy the performances of the actors and marvel at how good and limber they are. Kopell fares the best of the three, mining laughs from every piece of punctuation and every excruciating line he is forced to deliver. Cutell also has a lion's share of excruciating lines, delivers them slightly less well, and overacts like there's no tomorrow. Ganzel, who is the weakest of the three, but is thoroughly convincing as the daffy prostitute, spends her entire time strutting around the stage in spike heels, shaking her pushed up breasts while wearing a mini-skirt (surprisingly demure costumes are by Bob Mackie—THE Bob Mackie). It is an incredibly stereotypical role, demeaning as all get-out, with lines like "Books, I love books. You have one I read. Moby Dick! Weren't you shocked to find out it's all about a huge fish."
The third group will simply rejoice that they found a new play about which they'll be able to say "Yeah, I saw that one. That was a doozy."
While I didn't really enjoy Viagara Falls, though it's competently directed by Don Crichton, many of the people around me were a-titter (all puns intended) with delight until the puzzling, "surprise" heavy downer of an ending took place. There is no denying this show has appeal to particular segments of the audience. Press materials state that Carol Burnett gave the show 12 stars out of 10. My number would be on the lower end.