Katie Graviss Bechtler & Josh Cox in The Gods of Comedy. Photo: Little Colonel
The Gods of Comedy
By Ken Ludwig
Directed by Mike R. Price
A review by Kate Barry
Entire contents are copyright © 2022 Kate Barry. All rights reserved.
You gotta hand it to the ancient Greeks. They knew how to put together a democratic government, an education system, and good comedy. Broad and zany, Aristophanes of ye old Greece crafted the best plays the world has seen yet only eleven of them have survived. But what if one of these lost plays were found centuries later? This is the idea behind The Gods of Comedy at Little Colonel Playhouse. A comedy of mythic proportions, this play fuses some basic theater history and playful shenanigans.
The curtain rises on Daphne, a Classics professor on holiday in Greece, played by Katie Gravis Bechtler. Enthralled and inspired by her surroundings, Daphne faces a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity upon learning her cohort Ralph (Josh Cox) has discovered a long-lost text by Aristophanes. Soon, a simple mishap turns into big trouble for Daphne, Ralph, and their recent discovery.
As brilliant scholars, Bechtler and Cox are relatable in their stressful pursuit to recover their lost artifacts. Bechtler’s Daphne is a swirl of nerves and anxiety whether she is facing the Dean of her department, tracking down the lost script, or figuring out whether the Greek gods she is speaking to are real or not. Her flustered moments are large and memorable yet distracting from the pursuit to move forward as a confident scholar in her field. With such a large performance, Bechtler’s sincere recitation of monologue towards the end of the play forges less of an impact. Cox and Bechtler do well to fumble awkwardly on their wild hunt before the Dean finds out. Asthmatic and a little timid, Cox brings in some quirks as a bookworm professor with a major discovery. Towards the beginning of the play, dialogue insists that this is a Rom-Com yet the end of the play undermines that notion but is a simple yet effective ending.
The script provides lots of moments for crowd-pleasing comedy. At times the bits were just right, others could have used just a little push to make a splash. The situation comedy vibe, obviously fake babies, maps and tiny planes, and giant golden comedy masks are humorous and welcoming. John Hess’ Dionysus and Christine O’Hara’s Thalia are the questionably helpful deities who descend to Earth to assist Daphne and Ralph, and these two make the most of their time on stage as soon as they make their glittery entrance. Hess and O’Hara have a good comedic partnership as they grow accustomed to the Earthly ways of cheeseburgers, fries, and college campus spirit wear. Taking the themes of wine and misrule and comedy, these two deliver performances worthy of Grecian comedy.
As chaos ensues for Daphne and Ralph, the Greek gods attempt to inspire and assist in any way they can. Of course, this leads to more nonsense and mix-ups until a chance entrance from the campus janitor saves the day. Pat Wagner handles three parts with well-thought-out character choices. While his playfully arrogant Ares brings to mind Thor movies Love and Thunder and Ragnarok, his heavily accented performances of the street urchin and janitor tiptoe past being problematic, resisting any kind of stereotype. Wagner brings credible energy to a key moment of the first act as he sells a necklace with special powers. The delivery is solid and yet the scene needs an extra something to upsell the allure of this special prop and its magic, perhaps a simple change in lighting or blocking to sell the moment. Jesse Rebecca Pavlovic and Erika Wardlow offer clever comedic supporting performances of uptight academic Deans and Hollywood divas hungry for their next big break.
Little Colonel Playhouse has put together a show that proves they know how to make their audience laugh. It would be easy to look deeper into the content of the play as it relates to ancient text and connect the dots between Ancient Greek references. But I suggest you just enjoy the play and laugh as much as you can.
Featuring Katie Graviss Bechtler, Pat Wagner, Erika Wardlow, Josh Cox, Jesse Rebecca Pavlovic, John Hess, Christine O’Hara
The Gods of Comedy
October 7, 8, 13, 14, & 15 @ 7:30 pm
October 9 & 16 @ 2:00 pm
Little Colonel Playhouse
302 Mt Mercy Drive
Pewee Valley, KY 40056
Kate Barry has worked with many different companies around town since graduating in 08 from Bellarmine University. She’s worked with CenterStage, Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, Bunbury Theater, Louisville Repertory Company, Walden Theater, Finnigan Productions. She used to work in the box office at that little performing arts center on Main Street but now she helps save the planet. In 2012, her short play “PlayList” won festival favorite in the Finnigan Festival of Funky Fresh Fun. Her play “Catcher Released” won an honorable mention with the Kentucky Playwrites Workshop. She has written for LEO Weekly and TheatreLouisville.com as well. When she is not writing, she teaches yoga. Thanks for reading!