Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Southern Baptist Sissies

southern baptist sissies indianapolisI recently saw a performance of “Southern Baptist Sissies” at Theater on the Square in Indianapolis. It was a return run for the theater but it was the first time I had seen the show (and actually the first time I have been to this theater). I knew from the preview that the show was going to be critical of religion, but I found it to be surprisingly evenhanded. There was the display of the flaws in humans' practice of Christianity, such as the misinterpretation of the Bible and the picking and choosing which admonitions to adhere to. There was also a display of the real power of faith and Andrew's attainment of the reward for his belief (although by way of a very troubled and imperfect path).

While Brother Reilly and the mothers provide a framework, T.J. and Mark a story line, and Benny a comedic reprieve, it is Odette and Peanut (besides obviously Andrew) that provide the emotional punches to the play. Odette and Peanut appear as mostly barfly caricatures in a subplot, but that stealth positioning makes the revelation of their internal struggles more wrenching for the audience when they unmask the hidden burden on their souls.

Dannon CrewsThe standout performances for me were Juli Inskeep as Odette, Ron Spencer as Peanut, Dan Flahive as Brother Reilly, and Dannon Lee Crews as Andrew. Actually I was amazed at the performance by Dannon Crews. I have never seen him act before and I was really stunned by the life and believability he infused into the portrayal of the character. The expressions, the delivery, the tonal quality were mesmerizing whenever he spoke. The big shock was that he was something between a total stranger and a distant acquaintance a long time ago (is there a term for that?) and I had no idea he had this kind of talent. The revelation made me feel like Jane must have, when she said to Blanche "You mean, all this time, we could have been friends?"

The motion picture based on this play is in the works, featuring Delta Burke and Leslie Jordan.


Peter Maria said...

You don't mention it, but I'm sure you're aware the play is by Del Shores. I was turned on to him by Sordid Lives when I lived in the Palm Springs area. I became a huge fan of his entire oeuvre, but have only read most of them. Naturally, I had no idea this was in town, so of course I find out about it 6 months later. Oh, well.