Saturday, September 10, 2011

Reverend Mr. Mom

With The Homophobes, A Clown Show--running now at Dixon Place--Argentine-born playwright Susana Cook takes cartoonish aim in the general direction of Christian fundamentalism. Her blows might not land with clear impact, but this one-act play is an often amusing, ultimately comforting sermon to the progressive choir.

In this satirical what-if story, a charismatic and very married preacher dumbfounds his cult-like flock when it turns out he's pregnant. And not just pregnant--as wild a situation as that would be--but, he claims, impregnated by the same miraculous method that produced his Savior, Jesus, Son of God. Complications--and homophobic outrage--ensue.

Clearly Cook's attitude towards the Christian right is: If you insist on being ridiculous, be prepared to be ridiculed. Cook doesn't just paint with a thick brush; she tosses the brush aside entirely and grabs big spray cans in both fists. The preacher's congregation all sport ugly blond wigs, impossibly dowdy clothes and mooncalf expressions of devotion. As these creepy believers drift towards individual members of the audience, one's natural impulse is to flee the theater.

It's all a little shrill at first until the belly-distended, morning-sickness-challenged Reverend Fred (the wonderful Robert Saietta) comes to fully embrace his new role in life and faces the wrath of his followers. Something else starts seeping in, mainly through Saietta's attentive, ultimately sympathetic performance, that introduces tenderness. Regie Cabico, in either blonde, lipsticked drag as a true believer or skimpy angelic feathers as God's seriously under-dressed messenger, also consistently strikes effective notes along a range from silly to sly to sensitive. Cook's eventual emergence and interaction with her nine actors have something of a grounding effect--poetic and dazzling, too, underneath her studiously rumpled appearance.

With direction, original music and live musical performance by Julián J. Mesri 

The Homophobes continues at Dixon Place on Fridays and Saturdays through September 24 at 7:30pm.


Dixon Place
161A Chrystie Street (between Rivington and Delancey Streets), Manhattan
(map and directions)

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