Jeff Daniels' 'The Meaning of Almost Everything' a Physical Comedy Marvel

Actors Matthew Gwynn and Michael Brian Ogden shine onstage at the Purple Rose Theatre in Chelsea.

The Purple Rose Theatre Company's world premiere comedy, The Meaning of Almost Everything by Jeff Daniels, is a fun night of entertainment.

Meaning revolves around an unspecified time and place, which may be real or may take place in the mind of the characters. Character A (Matthew Gwynn) wants to stay in this place, and Character B (Michael Brian Ogden) tries to convince him to go. During the course of the 70-minute show, the audience is taken on a philosophical journey of questions.

The staging and choreography is easily my favorite part of the show. Gwynn and Ogden are so in sync with each other that the physical comedy almost looks effortless. In a play with no distinct plot, it is up to the actors to keep the audience entertained, and these two actors definitely succeed.

The physicality and the fast paced dialogue, as well as many of the strategically placed comic routines, help pace the show's plot. One of my favorite scenes involved Ogden and Gwynn engaged in a fight, backed by the Chariots of Fire theme.

Noele Stollmack's lighting design and Quintessa Gallinat's sound design were flawless. The gel color choices gave an other worldly effect to the bare stage that was quite unique, and the uplights from beneath the stage were great, as well.

Meaning is definitely one show audiences will talk about long after leaving the theater. Daniels' script offers an interesting insight into modern society's values, asking questions such as, "Why are we blindly marching toward the same place, when that place is not good?"

The script has many aspects of theatre of the absurd (characters caught in hopeless situations forced to do repetitive or meaningless actions), which can be a bit much for an inexperienced theater audience.

The Meaning of Almost Everything runs at the Purple Rose Theatre through March 9, 2013. For ticket information call 734-433-7673 or visit http://purplerosetheatre.org.


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