The plot of The Cocoanuts is fairly thin, but the important thing is it provides a structure around which all the hijinks occur. In a struggling hotel in Cocoanut Beach, FL, owner Mr. Hammer (the most famous Marx Brother, Groucho) needs money to keep the doors open, whether by romancing a rich older woman or selling off lots in the property next door. Overworked bellhop Mr. Jamison (the youngest brother Zeppo) just wants to marry his sweetheart Polly (daughter of said rich older woman) and settle into a little cottage on Lot 26. But he's framed for stealing a diamond necklace by a couple of con artists, one of whom also wants to marry Polly - for her fortune. The other two Marx Brothers Harpo and Chico show up to cause havoc along the way to the happy ending.
|the Marx Brothers reincarnated (Justin Keyes, Mark Bedard,
John Tufts, and Brent Hinkley, photo by Jenny Graham)
|the beautifully wacky cast of The Cocoanuts
(photo by Jenny Graham)
The design of the show has been mostly transplanted from the OSF production - why mess with perfection? Richard L. Hay's cartoony two-dimensional sets provide the perfect backdrop for this sunny comedy, and include a particularly clever double-room design that allows for some sublimely comedic comings and goings with plenty of well choreographed door slamming. The dance choreography (by Jaclyn Miller) is great too, with characters sometimes breaking into dance while conversing with each other. The costumes (designed by Meg Neville) are delectable - lovely period dresses with matching accessories for the women, smart suits for the men, and the Marx Brothers' crazy costumes with plenty of pockets for appearing and disappearing items.
The world is an increasingly terrifying place, locally, nationally, and internationally. In such times it's a necessary relief to have a place to go where you can forget all that for a few hours, and celebrate humor, music, art, and community. This delicious mix of the Marx Brothers' punny slapstick comedy and Berlin's lovely and clever songs might be just the antidote you need. The Cocoanuts continues through January 3 on the Proscenium Stage. Across the lobby on the Thrust stage is, of course, A Christmas Carol, another nice balm to the soul (while I haven't seen it this year, it's virtually the same show as last year).