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Sincerity Forever
a Absurdist Comedy
CATEGORY :
by Mac Wellman

COMPANY : Vernal & Sere Theatre
VENUE : The Robert Mello Studio [WEBSITE]
ID# 4982

SHOWING : December 02, 2016 - December 11, 2016

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

The inhabitants of small-town Hillsbottom are under siege: from high anxiety, toxic waste, carbon pollution, global warming, and (perhaps most of all) mystic furballs. Two profane aliens have landed and turned typical country small talk into something sinister. Is God watching? Does he care? Is God a he? In the play that simultaneously won Mac Wellman an Obie Award and lost him favor with the National Endowment for the Arts, American consciousness is examined with a peculiar humor, imagination, and honesty.


CAST & CREW LIST
Furball One Kathrine Barnes
Cast Gwydion Calder
Jesus Brittany Inge
Lloyd/Melvin Cody Vaughn
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production
REVIEWS

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Pretentious Choreographed Acting Class
by playgoer
Monday, December 5, 2016
2.5
Mac Wellman’s "Sincerity Forever" is not targeted to everyone’s taste. Certainly not to mine. The basically incoherent script requires a strong directorial hand to shape it into something resembling a plot. That it has in Vernal & Sere’s production. Sawyer Estes has choreographed an emotive, motion-filled flow that can be admired, even if the overall play itself can’t be loved.

The set, such as it is, consists of random pallets and fencing in the upstage area, along with a screen stage left on which is projected the full moon, except for segments in which live video feed is projected there. Eight pairs of chairs are arranged in the large black box playing area. One leg on each chair contains a pin light that adds tiny spots of illumination to the murky, atmospheric overall lighting by Lindsey Sharpless.

At the start, we enter into the room as gospel-flavored songs are being played. Onstage are three pairs of figures in Ku Klux Klan robes and hoods, subtly moving their heads, arms, fingers, and feet in unison to the music. After that extended pre-show segment, two figures in black, with wild dark hair, slither across the stage and the play itself starts.

Most of the play consists of two-character scenes, with the six KKK characters in various combinations, two in focus in side-by-side chairs center stage and the others (along with the two Furballs) arranged in the background. We see various friendships and romantic relationships, with the Furballs (Kathrine Barnes and JR McCall) apparently pulling invisible strings to control the actions of various humans. Jesus H. Christ (Brittany Inge) shows up early on to indicate that the Furballs have invaded and that only she has the power to subdue them.

Following these two-character scenes (including ones that are repeats of previous dialogue, only assigned to different characters) come overlapping dialogue and scenes involving more characters. It gets more and more frenetic until, after a frenzied dance, Jesus H. Christ takes center stage and spits out a screed against America and the human race, using the members of the audience as exemplars of despicable qualities. It’s all very Old Testament wrath-y. And then it’s over.

Performances are all good, and have obviously been shaped by the director to conform to a consistent vision. Cody Vaughn has a nice sensitivity as Lloyd and Melvin. Lucas Scott also shows an appealing side as George. Erin Colleen O’Connor does a wonderful job flipping between normal conversation and Furball-controlled pronouncements. Kasey O’Barr does well as Tom, although his role is written as a redneck using an erudite vocabulary that has never crossed a redneck’s lips. Gwydion Calder comes across a little better as Tom’s more sensitive friend. The Furballs have wonderful physicality, and Ms. Inge has a lovely singing voice. The standout, though, is Erin Boswell as Judy. She makes every word of her dialogue ring true, and her face is a marvel of subtle expressions.

Sawyer Estes has created a production using the black box space well, with terrific sound and costumes and movement and with perfectly acceptable lighting and set. For a new company, Vernal & Sere Theatre has bitten off a tough piece of writing to chew, and has largely succeeded in masticating the script into something resembling drama. The director’s note indicates that the play features characters inhabiting the underbelly of America, but the inhabitants in this production seem to me to be more a collection of talented young actors itching to show off their ability and range. In that they succeed; in making the shambles of a script come to true dramatic life, who could possibly succeed? [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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