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Time Out Theater Review: "The Explorers Club"

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An artist behind the hit Broadway musical "Legally Blonde" brings a new comedy to the off-Broadway circuit with the world premiere of his play "The Explorers Club." Time Out New York contributing critic David Cote filed the following review.

It's summertime in New York, and for some that means outdoor bars and delicious drinks. In Nell Benjamin's mock-Victorian farce "The Explorers Club," a bar figures heavily into the daffy plot. And the most intoxicating drink is concocted by Benjamin herself: her recipe goes like this: two parts "Blackadder," one part "Monty Python," a dash of Shaw, shake wildly and garnish with fresh feminist outrage.

Festooned with mounted heads, elephant tusks and a stuffed black bear, Donyale Werle's perfectly cluttered set is where Victorian men of science ponder the mysteries of nature while getting blotto. "The Explorers Club" takes place in London, 1879, and its goofy tale is set in motion by Phyllida Spotte-Hume, the poised and glamorous Jennifer Westfeldt, an intrepid traveler who brings back a member of the fictitious NaKong tribe nicknamed Luigi, played by an unrecognizable Carson Elrod.

Despite having survived the jungle armed with only a spoon, Spotte-Hume is a woman, therefore barred from joining this august society. Pining for her, nebbishy botanist Lucius Fretway, played by Lorenzo Pisoni, pleads with the starchy membership. Slapstick and satire ensue, most of it played at breakneck speed.

Don't think too hard about the issues raised in this demented comedy and just enjoy a spirited performance from the best comic ensemble on stage now. Not every joke lands and there are bumps in the madcap pacing, but none of it stops a marvelous cast hell-bent on hamming it up. As a sweet summer concoction, this one goes down easy and gets you happy.

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