The City That Cried Wolf
nytheatre.com review by Lisa Ferber
December 8, 2007
Brooks Reeves is one smart writer.
In his comedy The City That Cried Wolf, Reeves weaves a comic version of film noir style around characters and plots from nursery rhymes. He's got characters with such names as Madame Turkey Lurkey, Bovary Peep, and Miss Muffet, a lady of the evening, who says, "Show me your spider, I'll let you inside her." There's also sarcastic waitress Mary, Mary, which is hilarious as the audience figures out on its own that she is quite contrary.
The plot revolves around slick deadpan private detective Jack B Nimble (Adam La Faci)—who lost his true love Jill in a horrible accident. Jack is hired by Humpty Dumpty (played by versatile actor Loren Vandegrift, who shines also as the cooey, Capote-esque Frog and various other roles here) to find out if his wife Bo Peep is cheating on him. This leads to a series of events, and encounters with many characters (all actors except La Faci play multiple roles) who try to help—or hinder—our man from solving the case. It also leads to a sizzling romance with classic femme fatale Bo Peep (Chloe Demrovsky), who we know is trouble the moment we see her.
The dialogue here is just so good, as it combines the genres flawlessly: In describing Humpty Dumpty after his death: "He was a big egg with a thin shell." Or, when Goldilocks is seated at the bar trying out new drinks: "This one is too strong, this one, too weak. And this one is just right." Then the response from the bartender: "For a six year old, she can really pack 'em down." It's a real payoff for the audience as well, in that it does point out how nursery rhymes really are a great unifier.
Or how about this, when Jack orders a daiquiri at the bar and is told: "A daiquiri? That's a lady's drink." He responds, "I'm a ladies man." Or an ad for Sleeping Beauty Mattresses: "We take out the peas, so you can get your Zs."
After the intermission, things get a bit more serious, but at times a bit too slow. There's a street scene involving Jack and the Big Bad Wolf that felt too dramatic and big for the rest of the show, I would have preferred it faster paced and just shorter overall so as not to lose the general fast-paced rollicking humor of the thing.
But basically I was cracking up throughout The City That Cried Wolf, and consider this a sharply written, well performed piece of theatre.