The Austin Chronicle


FronteraFest Long Fringe

Reviewed by Dan Solomon, February 1, 2013, Arts

Gods and Idols

Salvage Vanguard Theater, 2803 Manor Rd.
Final performance: Sunday, Feb. 3, 2pm
Running time: 1 hr., 30 min.

Punchkin Repertory Theatre's Gods and Idols isn't perfect, but it's well suited to the fringe festival format. The script, by Jason Rainey, is funny, ambitious, and endearingly earnest in its exploration of its themes: namely, the role of faith in relationships, whatever the people in those relationships have chosen – or chosen not – to believe in. The play centers around Harris (Andrew Robinson), a young author and avowed atheist who's working on a biography of the Reverend Miller (Kara White), who focuses her ministry on death row inmates. He's haunted by dreams of a man he nearly hit with his car (Gino Sandoval), while both his wife (Kristi Brawner) and sister (Jordan Marett) pursue a musician (Lizz Taylor) who inspires religious fervor in her fans.

If that sounds sitcom-y, well, it is, but Gods and Idols balances that with compelling character moments and sincere soul-searching. It falls apart toward the end – Harris and his wife spend the last few scenes hostile toward one another for reasons that are never clear, and a subplot involving Harris' and the Reverend Miller's mutual attraction is mostly abandoned – but part of the point of FronteraFest is giving plays room to develop, and there's plenty here worth believing in.

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