A diamond in the rough
Secrets of a Gay Mormon Felon
KC Fringe Festival
Kimball Allen is a felon. This much is so. At the Westport Coffee house last night he told us the story of how he became one, how he went from the ideal Mormon boy to having a permanent police record. Along the way we hear about his struggle with his sexuality, and family expectations, and the conflicts of interest which may--or may not--have sent him on the road to what he eventually became.
He takes us through his childhood: family Christmas pageants in barns, training for priesthood, being one of an expansive Mormon family. At one point, he relates to us, he was shopping with his grandmother and was shocked--shocked!--to see her buying a case of Diet Coke. All that innocence comes t a screeching halt at age thirteen at a roadside rest area. The pain of that event marks his life permanently, eventually guiding him on a road of hedonism and, eventually, crime.
To be faced with a true story such as this, as told by the person who lived it, is a sobering experience. Kimball has put together a careful narrative of his life, trying to piece together the elements that led to his finding himself detoxing in a jail cell. It is a harrowing narrative, and he is to be commended for his skill and courage in bringing it to the public.
That being said, this is a new production, and in consequence has certain issues with staging and narrative flow. The story is told in a series of vignettes, many of which seem abbreviated or truncated, and all of which are followed by a blackout lasting from ten seconds to well over a minute. This tended to break the narrative, thus lessing the impact of the material. There were also other technical issues that arose through the night, but nothing that could not be rectified.
"Secrets" is a fascinating and engrossing story. It is a confessional, an act of contrition and a warning. With time and effort spent to develop it fully, there is no saying how much impact it could have. This reviewer would encourage Mr Allen to develop it further, fine tune the performance aspects. If the does that, there is no telling how many he could reach with it.