MONKEY ROOM at Magic Theatre

Check me out, being all “opening night guy.”

Yes, regular readers know that my standard move is to show up on closing night and then come home and rave about a show that you can’t actually see. Well, I’ve reformed! (Plus, I got comps.) So I was able to attend Kevin Fisher’s MONKEY ROOM on opening night.

As usual, I can’t be an impartial critic. Not only did the director of this play, Mark Routhier, direct my play I’LL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS in the Best of PlayGround festival, but this is also “a presentation of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Science & Technology Initiative,” and I’m a Sloan Initiative commissionee. Oh, and the lead is friends with a friend of mine. And I’m sure there are about six other conflicts of interest that a true journalist would have to disclose. So I’m biased. Sue me. (Note: Don’t actually sue me.)

Okay, so that’s all out of the way. Now, did I like it? Why yes, I personally liked it quite a bit. Like, it was one of my favorite plays of the Magic’s season, right up there with Betty Shamieh’s TERRITORIES.

MONKEY ROOM is about a woman who must simultaneously run a lab that’s working on an AIDS vaccine, fight for its funding when her mentor is replaced by a squirrely bean-counter, handle her screw-up post-doc lab assistant who’s more concerned with the monkeys than the science, and deal with a long-simmering romance with a geneticist who works in the building. It’s both comic and dramatic; the acting is stellar; the science is fascinating but doesn’t overpower the emotional arcs of the characters; and there’s a bunch of offstage monkeys.

I only wish my friend Les “Monkey Boy” McGeehee was in town and could check it out. He enjoys a good comic drama, and he loves him some monkeys. If you think you might, as well, the show runs until May 4.

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