by Elizabeth Youngman-Westphal
Just at the “edge of crazy” is one of the funniest, liveliest shows currently running in San Diego. It’s fall-out-of-your-seat hilarious. Withering Heights brings Emily Bronte’s novel, Wuthering Heights, to life like never before! It is a hoot!
Co-writers Phil Johnson and Omri Schein have taken what seemed like a really, really bad idea and turned it into brilliant one.
Exercising expertly crafted comic change ups, impeccable timing, razor sharp wit with fall on your face English farce, this two man/woman show is a non-stop laugh fest.
In just 90 minutes, the audience is transported back into the mid-1800s to the English Moors of Yorkshire.
According to Nellie, the maid, “Emily Bronte got the story wrong” and Nellie proceeds to re-tell the tale as it really was.
Enter Heathcliff (Phil Johnson) as the swarthy love interest of Catherine Earnshaw (Omri Schein). Comic genius ensues.
Phil Johnson plays eight of the sixteen characters including a dog – brilliantly. He is just too funny (Right, there should be another word for “funny” but none describes the story as well). Each character is on the mark and Johnson never, never breaks. He is fully committed to each of his many personalities.
Then there’s Omri Schein. His character dedication is without pause. He’s a comic master mind that combines rib tickling, side splitting and lines delivered on the mark. One cannot help but be amazed.
David Ellenstein had the good sense to stay out of their way and allowed Johnson and Schein’s talent to meander throughout the story. Well, it just makes Ellenstein look really smart.
This delightful show came about because three guys thought there was something missing in San Diego theatre. Will Cooper, Ruff Yeager and Phil Johnson are making a difference by representing playwrights, producers, and actors coming together to make magic.
The team is supported by a production crew dedicated to their duties; James Olmstead made music, Scott Amiotte designed the set, Curtis Mueller managed the lights while Melanie Chen and Chad Lee synchronized the sound. However, absolutely nothing would have worked if Elisa Benzoni had not coordinated costumes with Bonnie Durben’s props along with Peter Herman’s wigs.
Hats off to this dedicated band of merry makers. Roustabouts Theatre Company proudly presents Withering Heights – a world premiere – at the Diversionary Theatre, 4545 Park Blvd. in University Heights. Last show July 9, 2017. Box Office: 619 220-0097 or www.theroustabouts.org.
P.S. Plan to spend 20 or more minutes to find street parking in this manicured neighborhood.