Long Fringe Review: 'Holier Than Thou'
The show where you compete for the powers of the Messiah
By Dan Solomon, 7:45PM, Tue. Jan. 31, 2012
If the second coming were to occur in 2012 America, how else would we determine who he or she is than with a reality television competition? That’s the hook of Holier Than Thou, which features seven performers (both onstage and via giant video talking heads) offering an oral history of their attempt to win the powers of the Messiah for a week.
There are some limitations inherent to an oral history, but director Bethany Perkins does a fine job of building chemistry among her actors and mitigating the fact that the "show vs. tell" dynamic is skewed so heavily toward the latter that the actors only ever look at each other one time during the entire play. Kacy Todd, particularly, impresses as she carries the piece’s emotional climax via monologue &ndash always a challenge.
Holier Than Thou struggles when the details of its competition get confusing &ndash as on any good reality show, everybody’s got challenges to perform, but it’s not always clear exactly what’s happening &ndash but it’s a play that aims high in addressing heady theological and cultural themes in a script by Bastion Carboni that also features satisfyingly immature jokes about Jesus and ball-punching. That makes for a lot of moving parts for a play where most of the actors don’t even leave their chairs, and that sort of ambition is satisfying to watch. Tuesday, Jan. 31, 9pm; Saturday, Feb. 4, 8:15pm, Salvage Vanguard Theatre, 2803 Manor Road. Running Time: 1 hr. For more information, visit www.salvagevanguard.org.