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Steve Martin’s ‘Meteor Shower’ Has World Premiere At Old Globe

Comedy looks to marriage, relationships, and SoCal life

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The Old Globe Theatre would like Steve Martin to view its stage as a home for anything he writes. Two years ago it hosted his musical "Bright Star." Now comes the world premiere of his play "Meteor Shower."

Two years ago, Old Globe Theatre Artistic Director Barry Edelstein announced the world premiere of "Bright Star," a musical created by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell. Now Edelstein welcomes Martin back to the Globe with the world premiere of "Meteor Shower."

"They are very different [works]," Edelstein said. "'Bright Star' is a very sentimental story and the music brought out an emotional tide that gave it a wistful feeling. 'Meteor Shower' doesn’t have that; it’s a much edgier and purely funny comedy."

But playwright Martin wanted to make sure it wasn’t just a sitcom on stage.

"Sitcom writing is so good now you have to be careful that your play is not a sitcom," Martin said. "So it has to be a real theatrical experience and more intellectual and out of the real world than a normal sitcom would be. I want to make sure its number one purpose is to be funny and be surprising."

And it is. It taps into Martin’s love of theater, of the absurd and pushes the envelope on reality. But he doesn’t want to give away too much.

"I don’t want to say, 'here’s what it is,' and then have people come see it already knowing what it is," Martin said.

"We are calling it an adult comedy because there are mature themes in it," Edelstein added. "It’s a marriage comedy. It’s an infidelity comedy. It’s a relationship comedy, very intimate in its form and intimate in what it’s about, but it goes into some really interesting things about what it’s like to try and forge a relationship with another person over a long period of time."

"I thought it was hilarious, brilliant and very insightful and truthful," Director Gordon Edelstein (no relation to Barry) said. "If you think of all his comedy, there is not a cruel moment in anything he’s ever written, so it is both somewhat satiric at the what fools these mortals be, somewhat satiric at all our behavior, yet it’s done with a loving and knowing, non-judgmental heart."

The play takes a familiar premise: One couple invites another couple over for dinner. Think "Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf" with a "Twilight Zone" twist.

"The couple that comes over stirs the pot," Gordon Edelstein said. "Other sides of each of the characters' personalities come out."

Live theater affords Martin an immediate response from the audience about what's working and what's not.

"With live theater you test it every night," Martin said. "It’s still being tweaked. This has only been performed ever twice. So you are constantly learning things and you don’t want to say that’s it. The main surprise was that they were laughing because you just never know. Sometimes you go to bed the night before the first preview going, 'I can’t think of one funny thing in this play.'"

But audiences can.

"One of the things that’s fun about watching a play in San Diego is you come away with the sense of a wry, ironic thinker having fun with the very particular subculture of our part of the U.S.," Barry Edelstein said.

It's the response of a live theater audience that keeps bringing Martin back to the stage.

"I love really earning those laughs," he said.

And for the moment he’s collecting high dividends.

"Meteor Shower" runs through Sept. 18 at the Globe’s White Theater in the round. Tickets are essentially sold out for the entire run but individual tickets might be returned and made available.

Martin's full interview will be featured in the Cinema Junkie Podcast 88.

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