We Recommend

(A)men

Paul Rudnick's The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told isn't.

by

comment

The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told can be pretty much summed up in three simple sentences. They are, in descending order of importance:

1) You're SO gay.

2) You're SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO GAY!

And, of course:

3) Girlfriend, whoever it was who told those two blind, mullet-headed lesbians, who should have been out making themselves useful fixing somebody's Bronco or something, that they could just come up in here, IN HERE, and commence to dec-o-ratin' this place any old (and, honey-chile, I do mean OLD) way they please is, and you know I wouldn't go putting you on now, no, unh-UNH, because they are so, so, and I do mean SO, very gay, have mercy [snap], that it is just to laugh [flourish], and can I puh-leeze have an AMEN, HALLELUJAH, THANKYSWEETBABYJESUS on that one?

And that's pretty much the sorry size of it.

They say a hard wind can't blow all day, and Paul Rudnick's hard-blowing script is proof incontrovertible. The seemingly endless parade of too-obvious one-liners and cheap sight gags is so full of broad gay stereotypes that one quickly tires of a premise that is worked harder than a two-bit hussy on crazy-check day: Ain't dem homos a hoot? Yessiree, it's a rollicking gay minstrel show (minus requisite banjos) where shucking and jiving have been replaced by shopping and crotch-diving.

Rudnick, whose I Hate Hamlet is a goofy, nothing-is-sacred rip on stodgy old Shakespeare, has a gift for lightning-quick comedy. It's abundantly clear that with Fab Story he was trying way too hard to have the same kind of terribly twee fun with the Holy Bible. Too bad this gay "Good Book" ain't so good. In fact (and presumably by way of accident), it comes dangerously close to the kinds of grotesque parody usually favored by sissy-hatin' good ol' boys. A well-positioned ad in Survivalist Monthly could almost ensure the play's success while stoking the fires and stroking the mean-spirited funny bones of gay-bashing rednecks from here to the very outskirts of Yoknapatawpha County. Even if in jest, to make a gay man responsible for all of mankind's great mythological tragedies, like getting humans kicked out of paradise, the universal flood, and the Abdominator is, ideologically, troublesome. To add obscurity to injury, Rudnick employs at least one theatrical device that only those precious few observers who have actually spent some time on stage can fully enjoy: "Oh her? -- Why, she's God, honey. She just thinks she's the stage manager." (I am positively slain by the cleverness of it all.)

The show opens with a belabored comic retelling of the Christian creation myth. An unspoken "Let there be buggery" is pronounced somewhere around day eight. And, lo, there was buggery. And it was good. I suppose. That is, it looked like it might have been good for someone. From that magical moment on, a terribly neurotic Adam and his butch eternal-life partner Steve fuss, shop, and bugger their way through eternity, stopping only once to have sex with some animals along the way. Their best friends, Jane (a mean mannish girl with a taste for the hooch) and Mabel (an earth goddess so flaky they should name a breakfast cereal after her), play off their male counterparts like a po-mo Fred and Ethel.

Renee Davis is genuinely funny as the eco-friendly Mabel. Her limber herstory of modern dance, running the gamut from Isadora Duncan to Stevie Nicks, is a thoroughly amusing meat-headed gag that might have been culled from an episode of The Family Guy. Kyle Barnette also scores guffaws as a nelly pharaoh who's a wee bit too sensitive about his eye makeup. Emily Fry does some of her most specific character work to date, and the remainder of the cast turn in solid, energetic performances. As Steve, Ben Hensley actually manages to find a few poignant moments, which are, in this foolish endeavor, scarcer than lizard lips. But none of this adds up to much. The entire first act is nothing but a series of loosely connected bits. And the second act The, uh, second act. Well, I didn't stay for the second act. You see, the second act abandons the Bible story and turns into an overly sentimental (yes, sentimental) celebration of fabulousness with forced observations on the nature of God, love, and the meaning of the universe and stuff. Malaria seems more appealing.

And now a word about the set: Girlfriend told those blind, mullet-headed lesbians they could just come up in here and commence to dec-o-ratin'? Chile, unh-uh.

The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told is at Circuit Playhouse through February 17th.

Add a comment