Review: Sizzle: A Global Warming Comedy (New Suit Theatre)

| October 31, 2011
Sizzle - A Global Warming Comedy, New Suit Theatre       
Sizzle: A Global Warming Comedy

Adapted by Jason Burkett and Sara Gmitter 
Directed by Aaron Henrickson
Raven Theatre West Stage, 6157 N. Clark (map)
thru Nov 13  |  tickets: $20   |  more info

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Understated, dark comedy is entertaining yet informative


Sizzle: A Global Warming Comedy, adapted by Jason Burkett and Sara Gmitter, continues through November 13th at Raven Theatre West Stage.

New Suit Theatre presents
Sizzle: A Global Warming Comedy

Review by K.D. Hopkins

The thing that first impressed me about Sizzle: A Global Warming Comedy was the minimalist set. It’s bathed in cool violet tones that resembles a Kubrick Corridor. It’s very effective and evocative of the science fiction films of the 70’s. The issue of climate disaster has been around for a long time but in this age of technology it takes on a new definition.

Sizzle is indeed a comedy; a dark one. The humor is understated enough for the hip environmental hipster to chuckle derisively and laugh-out-loud enough for me to call it a comedy. This play follows the struggle of an earnest scientist who wants to make a film about global warming. Dr. Randy Olson is played by Andrew Nowak with a nervous edginess that seems always on the edge of cracking. He wants to tell the real story with facts, graphs, and data. He has an appointment with a Hollywood producer that, he is led to believe, funds movies that are outside the box.

Dr. Olson is met by the very efficient and unflappable Tyra who takes him to the serene home of Mitch, a Hollywood wunderkind. Korri Givens plays Tyra with a sly smile and a very sexy coolness, delivering some great lines, yet never breaking that sardonic veneer.

When Michael Reyes bounds onto the stage as Mitch the movie producer, it becomes obvious that he is not only a foil to Dr. Olson but a brilliant contrast to Tyra’s coolness. Mr. Reyes is very funny and verily emanates an electric vibe. Mitch is a caricature of crazy Hollywood that finds the Zen in gangsta rap while staring at the ocean. He is exfoliated, massaged, and has literal bursts of ideas that everyone scrambles to make happen.

Dr. Olson is given a budget and a cameraman, who Mitch owes a favor, named Antoine (Jovan King). Mr. King plays Antoine with an edgy common sense that is in reality quite brilliant. He gives one look that takes the place of a line uttered and delivers the punch line without a word. That is not easy to carry off.

Jason Burkett and Sara Gmitter adapted the play from and actual documentary film by marine biologist Randy Olson. Burkett and Gmitter do not wander off of the subject or go for the obvious laughs. There is factual data that is not lost in the comedy. The play delivers the rare balance of poignant comedy without getting maudlin. Dr. Olson believes that he is doing a serious documentary and then discovers that he needs to be more than the Cassandra of climate change. His journey with Antoine takes him to different scientists – my favorite being Dr. Cool, played by Eliot Fredland. Seeing Antoine take over the questioning, which makes Dr. Olson freak out rather imperiously, is definitely a high point. It soon becomes obvious that Olson has to bring the subject down to earth and out of the research world.

Nowak is wonderful as the layers peel away with each encounter. He starts to unwind and then just as the character is about to go over the cliff he pulls back and gives in to the journey. There are some nice kitschy effects illustrating the ocean and the scene which skewers the sacred polar bear image is worth the ticket price alone.

The play builds to a good conclusion. Dr. Olson does his part but there is also the realization that progress is just as slow as the realization of global warming. It is a comedy but it is also a very real phenomenon that requires more than a sticker on products proclaiming they are ‘green’. There is very little preaching or even proselytizing in Sizzle: A Global Warming Comedy, but the facts are there and they will give you something to think about and maybe take your own action. This is good theater and a good message.

Rating: ★★★

Sizzle: A Global Warming Comedy continues through November 13th at Raven Theatre West Stage, 6157 N. Clark (map), with performances Thursdays-Saturdays at 8:30pm and Sundays at 3:30pm.  Tickets are $20, and are available at More information at




Andrew Nowak (Randy Olson), Korri Givens (Tyra), Michael Reyes (Mitch), Jovan King (Antoine), Elliott Fredland (Dr. Cool), Michelle McKenzie-Voigt (Dr. Worthington), Liz Davis (Dr. Monroe/Zoo Keeper), Kirsten Benjamin (Sara/Heather), Johanna Middleton (Tyra understudy)

behind the scenes

Aaron Henrickson (director); Jon Cohen (asst. director); Adrienne Bader (stage manager); Harriet Sogin (production manager); Ellen Sidel (costumes); Claire Sangster (lighting); Sally Weiss (sets); Joshua Hurley (props); Dan Carlyon (sound design); Jacob Watson (poster design)


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Category: 2011 Reviews, Adaptation, K.D. Hopkins, New Suit Theatre, Raven Theatre West Stage

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