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Storefront Church

a Drama
by John Patrick Shanley

COMPANY : Theatrical Outfit [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Balzer Theatre @ Herren's [WEBSITE]
ID# 4707

SHOWING : April 09, 2015 - May 03, 2015



Concluding the "Church and State" trilogy of plays that began with "Doubt" and "Defiance," John Patrick Shanley’s "Storefront Church" is a hilarious morality tale that explores the often thorny relationship between spiritual experience and social action.

Director David DeVries
Jessie Cortez Donna Biscoe
Tom Raidenberg Tom Key
Ethan Goldklang Clayton Landey
Chester Kimmich E. Roger Mitchell
Donaldo Calderon Anthony Rodriguez
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Crumbs Onstage
by playgoer
Monday, April 20, 2015
The plot of John Patrick Shanley’s "Storefront Church" paints itself into a corner. After a balloon payment, a mortgage is about to go into default, along with a second mortgage for improvements to a rental property on which no rent has ever been paid. How is financial ruin to be avoided? The twists and turns of the plot offer possibilities, none of which are acceptable to all parties. The play ends with no real resolution. People may have learned things about themselves by the end, but no one is really better off in material terms. It doesn’t lead to a satisfying conclusion.

Production values aren’t really satisfying either. James Maloof’s set design and David de Vries’ blocking ensure that good sight lines are available only to those audience members seated in the center. The thrust, raked stage may bring the action closer to the audience, but it too often places the backs of actors to audience members on the sides. It’s also a messy production, with cake and cookie crumbs littering the floor, not to mention stray leaves and snowflakes used in brief interludes spiraling to the stage in subsequent scenes. Sydney Roberts’ costumes don’t much impress, other than in the fit of suits worn by Tom Key and Anthony Rodriguez, and I found that Jeffrey Millsaps’ sound design added nothing to my enjoyment of the production. Ben Tilley’s lighting design has some nice effects, but it can’t carry the entire production.

The acting is what sells the piece. Excellent work is done by Tom Key (who really livens up the second act), Joe Knezevich (who masters a difficult physical and emotional presence), and Anthony Rodriguez (who ably supplies the dramatic center of the production). E. Roger Mitchell is a bit of a cipher in his role as the storefront minister, but the role is written for him to be more of a catalyst than an active player. Clayton Landey inhabits his role with great energy, but I didn’t really believe his relationship with Donna Biscoe, as his wife. Ms. Biscoe seems altogether too "all together" to be a slightly scattered landlord. The writing makes the relationship problematic too, with the wife seeming to be solely responsible for financial matters (without understanding them), while the husband seems to stand at the sidelines, alternately offering moral support and moral indignation.

The play takes its time in revealing the interrelationships among characters, so it does a pretty good job of "hooking" the audience with strong early scenes. The initial tension begins to attenuate by the act break, and the final scene is a bit of a slog. The show ends with a choral rendition of the hymn "We Will Not Be Moved," which I guess is supposed to be inspirational. But was I moved by the production? No. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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