The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told...is very good theatre!

Anna Holloway Published: December 8, 2013
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The Oklahoma City Theatre Company’s “controversial” play proves to be an adult comedy that parodies all the popular “gay lifestyle” stereotypes while asking deeper questions. Directed by Kory Kight-Pagala, the production is raucously funny and energetically charming, though not without flaws. More importantly, it allows each member of the audience to decide for him- or herself how deep the experience will be.
Two couples, played by Fabrice Conte, Josh Bonzie, Rachel Morgan, and Krissy Jones, explore the nature of love, the existence of god, the importance of conversation, and the value of friendship—all under the direction of a god-like “Stage Manager” played with sardonic skill by Jackie Smola. The opening moments of the play, wherein the Stage Manager calls the cues of creation, are an impressionistic rendering of the first chapter of Genesis—an almost water-color montage provided by lighting designer Megan Skinner Shrock. The garden is completed with the assistance of the stage crew and scenic designer Ward Kays.
Conte as Adam offers a charming parody of the “flaming” gay man, and he is balanced by Bonzie as the strong and slightly cynical Steve. Jones gives us the fluffy, flower-child seeker in Mabel, while Morgan’s Jane is a caricature of an intensely practical “bull dyke” lesbian. The four become friends after being cast out of the paradise of first creation, and Adam and Mabel discover a concept of god to which they cling. Steve and Jane, the non-believers, see no need for god, but that does not diminish their love for their partners.
Throughout the play, the bible is physically present as both an icon of the search for the divine and as a symbol of thoughtless belief. Adam’s and Mabel’s trust in the existence of god is challenged by their partners, and the cast of supporting characters confronts the idea that there can ever be one and only one “true way” of love or faith or understanding.
The supporting cast play many characters, including animals on the “ark” during the flood. Lana Henson’s tuxedo cat was amusingly randy, although her rabbi sounds as if she may have come to Brooklyn by way of Australia. Paul Mitchell provided a conservative priest, a rhinoceros with an erotically sensitive horn, and an exotic dancer/elf—each character cleanly drawn. Rodney Brazil came perilously close to stealing the show as a spoiled Pharaoh and a snarky department store Santa. And while Jessica Carabajal has the best regional joke as localized pork, it is in her character as a Mormon who is the target of religious jokes from practically everyone that the audience is offered the most important challenges to faith. Carabajal’s Cheryl does not take the jokes in stride; she politely swallows the insults but she lets us see that the blows have landed.
It is easily possible to walk away from this production having enjoyed (or been offended by) the sexual humor and religious innuendo and leave it at that. In part because of Cheryl, it is also possible to walk away thinking about the meaning of faith and the many ways we use our religious expectations to hurt those around us who see the world differently.
The light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek production uses the conventions of the stage to expose and comment upon the struggle to find meaning in life. The obvious presence of the Stage Manager is in the script, but how much the audience sees of the mechanics of stagecraft is a director’s choice. Kight-Pagala has given us the inner workings, including dragooning the stage crew to stand in as members of an alternate ark’s congregation. The audience might be forgiven for seeing this as an amateurish presentation; in fact, it is deliberately unrefined. The production’s very structure shows us a work in progress, which in the end is what we all are—indeed, even creation itself is as yet unfinished.
Due to the playwright’s use of Genesis 2 and 3 as a pattern for the character’s early interaction, local clergy have created a controversy over the work. There have been protestors, both opportunistic and sincere, outside the Civic Center for the entire opening weekend. Oklahoma City Theatre Company, director Kight-Pagala, and the cast and crew are to be congratulated for presenting this lively and witty exploration of the human condition under the circumstances they have faced.
The sold-out production runs through December 22 on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights at 8. There are two Sunday matinees on December x and y. There were many empty seats on December 7, due in part to the weather. To check on the possibility of cancellations, contact the OKCTC Box office at (405) 297-2264. The website is www.okctc.org. Due to sexual situations and language, persons under 18 are not admitted.