Theater Review: 100 SAINTS YOU SHOULD KNOW (L.A. – Hollywood)

by Harvey Perr on June 10, 2011

in Theater-Los Angeles

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WE OF LITTLE FAITH

Kate Fodor’s 100 Saints You Should Know is a mildly interesting play, given heft by its author’s obviously sincere attempt to deal seriously with the nature of faith, but, despite its basic decency, it doesn’t really provide one with particularly fresh insights, nor does it probe with great depth its central theme.

What it does have is five potentially fascinating characters. There is Matthew, a priest who is on leave from the church for an indiscretion revolving around some homoerotic but totally artful George Platt Lynes photographs found in his possession; his mother, Colleen, who sticks closely to her Catholic teachings; Theresa, a working-class mom who cleans the toilets at Matthew’s rectory  and who is in the process of finding some kind of faith through television evangelists and whose interest in 100 Saints You Should Know - Elephant Theater CompanyMatthew seems somewhat confused, being less religious than amorous; her daughter, Abby, who, like most teens, is naturally rebellious and, given half a chance, naturally compassionate; Garrett, a neighborhood delivery boy whose fears about his own homosexuality makes him eager to meet Matthew but who instead gets involved in a drunken escapade with Abby that has tragic results which lead to an unexpected and slightly ambiguous denouement.

100 Saints You Should Know - Elephant Theater CompanyUnfortunately, director Lindsay Allbaugh, while faithful to the words on the page, doesn’t bring the words to life on the stage. The characters, their potential largely stillborn, are, for the most part, scrambling around for focus and clarity. Marco Naggar brings a winning simplicity to the part of Garrett, but with the explosive exception of Cheryl Huggins, who is vivid and sensual as the needy Theresa, the rest of the cast seems to be drowning in a fog-besotted sea. Although Kate Huffman is clearly an exciting young actress (she was excellent in The Little Flower Of East Orange), she seems sadly miscast here and is forced to act the part rather than to inhabit it. And 100 Saints You Should Know - Elephant Theater CompanyBrendan Farrell and Pamela Roylance, who are adequate journeyman actors, are just not interesting or nuanced enough to keep our attention. The Scrabble game they play together, which should define their relationship, is just a tiresome Scrabble game in their hands. The actors should drive the play forward, not depend on the play to do the job on its own. No play can do that.

It’s a shame, because the production, like most of the work at the Elephant Theatre Company, is handsome. Jeffery Eisenmann’s sets, Joel Daavid’s lighting, Louis Douglas Jacobs’s costumes, and Peter Bayne’s sound design are crisply professional. But 100 Saints You Should Know doesn’t even begin to live up to what it promises.

harveyperr @ stageandcinema.com

photos by Sven Ellirand

100 Saints You Should Know
scheduled to close June 26
for tickets, visit http://www.elephanttheatrecompany.com/

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