‘Hurricane Diane’ brings gale force laughter to stage
Play opens Huntington Theater 2021–’22 season
Shortly after hurricane Henri bypassed Greater Boston, “Hurricane Diane” hits the stage with full force at The Huntington. The 90-minute comedy welcomes audiences back into the theater, live and in person, with a searing and hilarious commentary on gardening and global warming.
In a neighborhood marked by identical kitchens and manicured lawns, Diane (Rami Margron) blasts in with raucous force to disrupt the cookie cutter suburban surroundings. Bent on saving the planet, Diane sets out to seduce the neighborhood housewives and to convince them to let their pesticide heavy gardens run wild.
“’Hurricane Diane’ is at once like a sitcom and a Greek tragedy,” says playwright Madeleine George. “And Diane is at once a lesbian separatist landscape gardener from Vermont and the god Dionysus in disguise. She’s on a mission to try to save the world from the wages of climate change through human stupidity and self-protection — and she’s trying to do it one desperate housewife at a time.”
The tie-in with the Greek god underscores both the problems between the civilized and the natural world (Dionysus’s territory) and also the bacchanal-style disruption Diane brings to the play’s rigid New Jersey neighborhood. What could call more to a wild nature god than the opportunity for sexual liberation and fostering native plants?
It turns out wild humor can coexist with the terrifying reality of global warming. And after a year and a half of pandemic weight, a good laugh is what Boston audiences need most. But comedy isn’t the only marker of this production. The characters, all vastly different in life experience and outlook, end up relating to each other on a profound level. In a time of great division, “Hurricane Diane” reminds us that people of all backgrounds and priorities can find common ground and common humanity.
The comedy is an uplifting way to open the theater season, one that’s both joyous in its return and tenuous in its future. “‘Hurricane Diane’ is a raucous, hilarious story about how we as humans relate to the world around us and how we relate to change,” says director Jenny Koons. “And it feels like this story is perfect for the moment we’re in.”
The Huntington is part of a coalition of local theaters requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test for audiences to attend in-person events. Masks will also be required during the performance. The show runs through September 26 at the Calderwood Pavilion.