SOUTH SALT LAKE — I have not seen a live play since the beginning of March. I think this longest I have gone without live theatre in perhaps a decade. So when the Parker Theatre announced that they had found a way to present a new family friendly sketch comedy, The Corona Conundrum, I was intrigued. I was concerned about safety, because I have been working from home, and my husband is an essential employee, so I was grateful to read about the theatre company’s safety protocols, and even more happy to see the set up when I arrived.
The Parker Theatre requested the audience members to wear masks and stated that all tickets must be purchased online. Upon arrival, my name was on a page with a map to my seat with a clearly marked pathway to my seat that showed a way to get to my seat that crossed no other patrons. The seats had several rows in between and in front and behind so that there was acceptable social distancing between parties. Also, restrooms were blocked off to minimize congregating at restrooms, and no concessions were sold. There was no intermission, and after the show, the individual parties were dismissed one at a time to also adhere to social distancing, so I felt very safe—safer than at a trip to the grocery store. I did have to wonder if this is a financially viable venture for the Parker, but I am glad they took the chance, because The Corona Conundrum was an enjoyable evening.
The Corona Conundrum, according to executive director James Parker, was written by the full team in a week and then rehearsed in four days. The cast consisted of five players: Meighan Smith, Madeline Thatcher, Brinton Wilkins, Bryson Dumas, and Spencer Jackson Hohl, who worked together to give the audience about 40 minutes of live action humor, Corona style.
The show started with a failed attempt to try and rehearse over a zoom call, and that concluded with a line that hit home: “Theatre was not meant to be done remote.” After that, the cast delivered a bunch of clever vignettes, and no corona meme was left unturned. From famous Tiktok dances, to needed toilet paper, to frazzled teachers in pajamas, to Karens carrying Lysol, 6 feet of spacing, seniors shopping at 7 AM, day confusion, doordash, conspiracy theories and more, the team at Parker certainly had the comedy of Corona down.
Perhaps the best part of the evening was my fellow audience members. Perhaps it was the fact that all of us had been stuck watching live streaming productions of Love Never Dies, but there was party atmosphere in the Parker. While the parody of “Sweet Home Alabama” may have been a bit silly during normal times, in the midst of a coronavirus pandemic, it is what people need. The Corona Conundrum is probably worth putting on a mask and taking your family because it may be the only live entertainment you can get for awhile, and that is certainly worth something.