‘Meteor Shower’ is golden at Tampa’s Jobsite Theater

This Steve Martin Theatre of the Absurd proves that Tampa Bay gets the (exquisite) theater it deserves.

click to enlarge Amy E. Gray (front) and Jordan Foote in 'Meteor Shower' at Jobsite Theater in Tampa, Florida. - Pritchard Photography
Pritchard Photography
Amy E. Gray (front) and Jordan Foote in 'Meteor Shower' at Jobsite Theater in Tampa, Florida.

Tampa Bay needs more Theatre of the Absurd. The problem is, Tampa Bay probably doesn't expect it to come in the form of a Steve Martin play. After all, he’s a wild and crazy guy, a brilliant comedian who will forever, in my mind (and likely not only mine), be associated with “Lord loves a workin’ man, don’t trust Whitey, see a doctor and get rid of it.” But someone whose work you see expecting Theatre of the Absurd? No.

You see Samuel Beckett, Eugène Ionesco, or Harold Pinter for Absurdist theater. Steve Martin? He’s Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, The Jerk and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. This is what many audiences (and, unfortunately, some theater critics) expect in his playwriting, too, forgetting, of course, that while Martin may have acted in these comedies, he also wrote the under-appreciated L.A. Story.

Of Martin’s four plays, one is a musical, one is a farce, and two — two! — are Theatre of the Absurd. But this, those unfamiliar with Jobsite Theater’s menu of theatrical choices might exclaim, Theatre of the Absurd is Very Serious Theater about the Meaninglessness of Life. Steve Martin is not a Very Serious Guy. These same people might also exclaim — after leaving the theater, disgruntled at not seeing some theatrical version of Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid — that Theatre of the Absurd isn’t what they need on a Friday night.

Nevertheless, here it is. And I am all here for it, and so should you be. If you’re already a fan of Theatre of the Absurd, I’ll save you the trouble of reading the rest of this: Jobsite, even at a preview performance, offered audiences a splendid experience, walking delicately the line between the Absurd and comedy. There, go buy your ticket. This sort of work doesn’t come along often in a mainstream venue.

But if you remain perched on the fence, feeling, perhaps, that you’re not sure you want to work that hard at theater — if even reading this far has felt exhausting to you — let me set your mind at ease: This is not an exhausting show. The trick to enjoying Theatre of the Absurd is that you should never, ever think too much, because the point is there is no point.

In Meteor Shower, that pointlessness is so much damn fun. That isn’t all due to Martin; the cast of four, well directed by Paul Potenza, has worked hard to make this all seem effortless (comedy is far harder than tragedy for actors and, I suspect, the Absurd is harder still). Jordan Foote, Amy E. Gray, Jamie Jones and Jonelle M. Meyer turned in a solid, delicious performance their first night in front of an audience when I saw the show (Jobsite graciously allowed me to watch a preview), although more than once I might have messed with their timing by laughing where perhaps they didn’t expect it. In my defense, they were funnier than I think they realized. And the funny isn’t only funny; it’s clever.

The plot — not that it matters — is simple: Two couples have a dinner party during a meteor shower and things get crazy messed up. You will spend the next 75 minutes wondering where it’s all going. Allow me to save you the trouble: It’s going nowhere, so enjoy the ride, because this type of theater is all about the ride. 

As for this particular production? Well, do we still say “on fleek”? Sets and lighting and sound and everything else, down to the glow-in-the-dark meteor jackets for the running crew (nicely done by costume designer Katrina Stevenson), only added to the experience. The four actors came together as a remarkable team. The meteor strike… really, it’s worth the price of admission for that one effect on its own. Kudos not only to the cast, but to director Paul Potenza, the designers and running crew for succeeding mightily with this show — and to Jobsite for choosing this show (and more like it, please!) You have my gratitude, and I believe Tampa Bay audiences will feel the same way.

TL; DR: If you want to laugh at well-performed theater that probably doesn’t have a larger meaning, this is the show for you. It is not, please note, a “wild and crazy” night.

And that’s a good thing.

'Meteor Shower,'Through Sept. 29 This show has been extended through Oct. 6: Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 4 p.m. $29.50 & up. Jobsite Theater at the Shimberg, David A. Straz Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N. WC MacInnes Place, Tampa., 813-229-STAR. Jobsitetheater.org.

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Cathy Salustri is the former arts + entertainment editor for Creative Loafing, but can’t seem to stay away from writing about local theater. She also does other stuff, like write about Florida travel. You can contact her here.


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Cathy Salustri

Cathy's portfolio includes pieces for Visit Florida, USA Today and regional and local press. In 2016, UPF published Backroads of Paradise, her travel narrative about retracing the WPA-era Florida driving tours that was featured in The New York Times. Cathy speaks about Florida history for the Osher Lifelong Learning...
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