Wednesday, March 29, 2017

review - IN THE GARDEN - Nearly Naked Theatre

Phillip Arran and Cole Brackney
photo by Laura Durant
highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)

Click here for more information on this production that runs through April 15th.

"The combination of sex and religion make for a heady mix in the intriguing drama In the Garden. While Norman Allen's darkly humorous play leaves a lot up to the interpretation of the audience, it poses several questions that focus on the religious and sexual norms of a group of suburban New Yorkers who are all seeking answers and are drawn to a young Christ-like boy whom they believe can help them. Though it isn't a completely perfect play, Nearly Naked Theatre's production features a capable cast and accomplished direction which makes for a stimulating theatrical experience.
The innocent and young college kid Gabe finds himself the center of attention (in both sexual and platonic forms) of his philosophical professor John, John's wife Muriel, John's friend Walter, and Walter's fiancĂ©e Lizzie. ...makes for an explosive story, especially when the relationships start to unravel and the truths are revealed. But is this foursome exploiting Gabe in order to fulfill their own sexual or emotional needs or is Gabe using them?...And what about the Christ-like persona that Gabe takes on after he devours a bible borrowed from John's library? Is he Christ reborn or just a crazy religiously obsessed kid? Allen's dialogue is filled with a sharp and biting sense of the current status of sex and marriage where the "free love" mantra of the sexual revolution has basically become "it's all about my needs." ...Allen's play isn't faultless. The denouement is a bit too tidy in how comfortable the characters are with each other once the facts come out, and the final scene also leaves much up to your interpretation of just who Gabe is. Audiences may leave feeling that there are a few questions left unanswered. But, even with those shortcomings, it is still an intriguing and stimulating play. Director Damon Dering does very good work here. ...As Gabe, Cole Brackney is radiant. ...He is energetic yet calm, elusive and enigmatic, and also has a direct, simple and clear purity...As John, Phillip Arran is direct and fatherly to the young boy, prepared to give him guidance and advice in return for giving him what he desires, while Shari Watts is fiery as Muriel, a woman with a deep desire to "feel something" ...Charles Orme makes Walter appropriately arrogant, yet underneath there is a burning desire to help the boy, and Lauren Bishop infuses Lizzie with tenderness and care....may not provide all of the answers to the many questions it provokes, it is offbeat and interesting with characters who make you want to find out more about them....proves to be thought provoking, humorous, and an intelligent discussion on the never tiresome topics of sex and religion." -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

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