An irreverent, R-rated Oklahoma City Theatre Company preview of “The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told” had something to entertain, wildly amuse and potentially offend nearly everybody.
The late 1990s play by Paul Rudnick was staged Thursday in the intimate 88-seat basement venue of City Space Theatre at the Civic Center Music Hall, 201 N Walker Ave.
Particularly startling was the first act in which biblical stories of the Garden of Eden, the Great Flood and the Exodus were told in a manner that might court controversy, but was often outrageously funny.
To do this it needed only a minimal set, portable props and some good lighting effects, plus Jackie Smola to play God, sort of, or an Arbitrary Authority, as the Stage Manager, shouting “Go” at each scene change.
Exploiting the sheer theatrical possibilities of discovering sex and that they were alive in the first place, and living in a wonderful garden, not necessarily in that order, were Adam and Steve, and Jane and Mabel.
Fabrice Conte was outstanding as Adam, and Josh Bonzie was in some ways even better, as the first man's dark other half, Steve, not only in the long first act, but in the shorter second, set in modern times.
Striking a good balance between playing it straight and camping it up, the two men brought the right attitude, half knowing and half naive, to their early, simulated, yet still risque sex scenes.
Things got even livelier — and messier — after they met Jane and Mabel, well-played by Rachel Morgan and Krissy Jones, then left the Garden, because Adam wanted to see what the rest of the world was like.
Morgan was just tough and tomboy enough, as Jane, especially in the second act, a Christmas party scene, in which she grudgingly gives birth in a powerful but hard-to-watch vignette.
Jones got across the Isadora Duncan-like qualities of Mabel, coming up with the idea of God, as she dances under the moon in act one, and giving the right hint of flower power to Mabel after intermission.
Supporting actors, filling multiple roles, were almost equally memorable, and contributed greatly to the production's ability to cover much of the world's religious history in a little over two hours.
Rodney Brazil was hilarious as a boy-king Pharoah, surprised to learn he isn't God, after all, in the Egyptian scene, and keeping a cool, cynical detachment from everyone else at the second act Christmas party.
Paul Mitchell stole some scenes as a sexy rhinoceros-bartender on the Ark, where people kept getting humorously seasick, and as a Christmas store elf who comes to the party, scantily clad, in act two.
Comically irresistible, too, were Jessica Carabajal as a pig with plastic udders on the Ark, and a Mormon in act two, and Lana Henson as Sharon, a surprisingly still sexy “disabled Lesbian Rabbi” at the party.
An equal opportunity offender of nearly everyone's sacred cows, the lighthearted, wickedly satirical vehicle, directed by Kory M. Kight-Pagala, is recommended, at least to those who know how to take a joke.
It will be performed at 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays through Dec. 21, and at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Sundays, Dec. 15 and 22. Tickets are $20 for adults and $17 for seniors, students and members of the military. Call 297-2264 or 626-6605 or go to www.okctc.org for information.
John Brandenburg has reviewed art and theater for The Oklahoman for more than 30 years, writing more than 3,000 reviews. Brandenburg received a Governor's Arts Award for his arts coverage in 1997. He has written 15 books of poetry and two short plays that have won awards from theater organizations in the state. As a painter, Brandenburg has shown his artwork in Oklahoma and other states since about 1980.