Buck Hoss good production of difficult story
KC Fringe Festival
Whew, this is a hard one. I think Fringe logistics hurt this show for me. I would be able to take it in better if I were seeing it by itself. Scott Cox has written a complex story with many themes which require time to process. It does fit the Fringe environment of experimentation with styles and the extreme lengths to which a story can go.
People who want the challenge of working through somewhat difficult philosophical and religious text and are willing to go wherever the story leads may be fascinated by this work.
The dramatic story is set among hillbilly people who follow the spiritual leadership of the local political leader's grandson, complete with fire and brimstone and conservative ideas about women. Along comes a mysterious preacher who inspires the women to worship with him in the forest. And the conflict is set.
The story makes me think of Midsummer Night's Dream, Greek tragedy, the ancient Roman religion of Mithras, and fundamentalist televangelists, among other things.
I like the poetic, heightened language of the two preachers, and their dueling talk scene is impressive. They savor the words.
In fact, every speaking actor does a very good job of creating the character and delivering the lines with meaningful interpretation and clarity.
The entire cast of 21 commit totally to the material, and give volume and energy that is passionate. That is impressive from so many people. Often I find that there will be a few actors who are weaker than the others, or don't have the same focus and intensity. But in this cast there is solid performance across the board. That speaks well for Scott and director Trevor Belt.
Music (especially dramatic drumming and mysterious rattling) and varied lighting enhance the mood, and the staging is creative and interesting. All 15 crew members have obviously put a lot of thought into melding the individual production elements into an effective whole.
Despite the impressive production values, I am left with a story that I cannot embrace and a resolution that is unsatisfying. The story goes too far beyond my bounds and is told by characters I have a hard time caring about in words that are not familiar and not easily grasped. I like exploring religion and philosophy, but not this way.
However, I salute the amount of work that went into such a long and complex piece, and the dedication and passion of all those involved in it.