It’s not easy to peg a playwright like Richard Dresser. One on hand, he’s prone to stunts, like the short piece he wrote for the Humana Festival a few years back that took place in a parked car, with an audience of three sitting in back. Or the play of his that involved no actors, but simply a computer where a single audience member sat and interacted with recorded voices piped through a speakerphone. Dresser was also a writer-producer on “The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd,” the late-1980’s TV series that served as something of a bridge between “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “Sex and the City.” Then there’s the Dresser of “Rounding Third,” a tame, vanilla comedy about Little League coaches locally produced by Northlight Theatre in 2002. In my review, I called the play “sluggishly predictable,” and unfortunately, the same could be said for “Wonderful World.” Two brothers, smugly idiotic Max (Jeremy Van Meter) and neurotic, Niles Crane-like Barry (Stephen Dunn), can’t get along, thanks to a simple misunderstanding about a dinner-party invitation. Along for the bumpy ride are Max’s fiancée (Laura Ciresi) and Barry’s wife (Joanne Maurno), and the whole mess becomes a swirl of shifting alliances and lots of family gossip. Don’t get me wrong—shared, snarky gossip can make you feel very close to someone, if only temporarily, and it’s a point that’s nicely established here. But that seems to be the only point, and it is repeated over and over again to grating effect. Recurring lines, such as “I love so-and-so but…” followed by a scathing putdown, never achieve the necessary bite. Paul Cotter’s direction for this Infamous Commonwealth production is riddled with awkward timing and awkward performances, drowning out what little dry humor might actual lurks within the script. (Nina Metz)
This production is now closed.