Unfortunate and unpolished
The Father, the Son, the Holy Truth
KC Fringe Festival
In doing these reviews, I often go out of my way to give the benefit of the doubt. To create a show, to go through the process of writing and staging and bringing it before the public, is a momentous amount of effort. When a performer brings all these elements together, it can be so many things: funny, moving, an incredible experience. Unfortunately, if the material is not strong, or the performance is broken and unsure, the result can be agony for performer and audience alike.
Mike Smith has part a lot of heart and soul into his work, "The Father, The Son and The Holy Truth"--of this there can be no doubt. I wish I could say that this translated into a compelling show, but unfortunately this is simply not the case.
God (Smith, pre-recorded with a *lot* of reverb) wakes his son Jesus (Smith) and tells him it's time to go back down to earth one more time, in a last-ditch effort to help mankind, who have strayed from the message he left behind. What follows is a meandering journey through the world of Gnosticism, Apocrypha, church/state politics, TV preachers, ad infinitum, and nauseum.We move from one thing to another with no real direction or structure, slides popping up montages of Medieval art and various popes. It starts off promisingly enough, discussing Paul and his near-singlehanded reinvention of Christianity, but rapidly digresses in all directions until, by the time he gets to the Illuminati and Masons, you're only surprised they took so long to show up.
The delivery is another major issue. God, as mentioned, is pre-recorded, always a risky proposition in a one-person show. Combine that with the slides and occasional video clip, and you have a recipe for one stumbled cue after another. Smith did not seem to be comfortable with his material, stammering over bits and rushing through his lines, only to stand awkwardly waiting for "God" to respond.
The material is delivered with the earnestness of a second-year college student who, having stepped out into the real world, simply cannot believe that society is so utterly blind. He is the guy who sits in the dorm common room, loudly telling all and sundry how the world *really* works. The script is labored and stilted, his reaction to every other revelation a forced, wooden "Wowwwww." Yours truly started to count the number of occurrences of this, but had to give it up for reasons of personal sanity.
I take no pleasure in saying these things. The Fringe is about nothing if not going out and taking risks, presenting a deeply personal vision. And this is far from the only unpolished production available this week. But the material is so seriously flawed, and the presentation clearly not ready for an audience, that I find I must simply warn people away. Other performers I have spoken to have assured me that, left to his own devices, Smith is actually a very funny and articulate man. I wish he could have brought that to bear on the script, for it was not in evidence.