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The Book of Liz
a Comedy/Drama
CATEGORY : COMEDY DRAMA
by David Sedaris and Amy Sedaris

COMPANY : Essential Theatre [WEBSITE]
VENUE : 7 Stages [WEBSITE]
ID# 1450

SHOWING : January 09, 2006 - January 28, 2006

[REVIEW THIS PRODUCTION]

PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

Sister Elizabeth Donderstock leaves the reclusive religious community she has lived in all her life (Clusterhaven, home of the Squeamish, famous for its cheese balls) and sets our to try her luck in the modern world. By Amy Sedaris (“Strangers With Candy”) and David Sedaris (“The Santaland Diaries”). “A delightfully off-key, off-color hymn to clichés we all live by.” – The New York Times. “Good-natured, goofy and frequently hilarious.” New York Newsday.

For scheduling information and reservations, call the Seven Stages Box Office at 404-523-7647 or visit www.7stages.org.


CAST & CREW LIST
Director Lee Nowell
Stage Manager Jennifer Brown
Lighting Designer Greg Hanthorn, Jr.
Set Designer Sonny Knox
Sister Constance Butterworth Dede Bloodworth
Sister Elizabeth Donderstock Rachel Craw
Ms. Foxley, Oxana Kolobko Kathleen Link
Brother Nathaniel Brightbee Topher Payne
Brother Hesikiah, Yvonne Kolobko Charles Swint
Reverend Tollhouse Alex Van
Artistic Director - Essential Theatre Peter Morris Hardy
Production Manager - Essential Theatre Tristan Ludden
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production
REVIEWS

[REVIEW THIS PRODUCTION]

Cheese Balls is right.
by tylers
Thursday, January 26, 2006
2.0
Well I went to see the show last night with Line! aka Rial and it seems that I have somewhat of a different take on the show. I suppose I should start off with saying that I believe I laughed more than anyone else in the audience but...

Rachel Craw (Sister Elizabeth) For what this young lady had to work with, meaning the script, I thought she did a fine job. Her character was clearly defined and she seemed to be enjoying the part. Her character quirks were believable, her language was well delivered and understandable. The only thing though, to me, is that she was on stage with such huge characters that I found her to be somewhat bland. Possibly that was the script but none the less her character was rather "boring" when compared to others in the play.

Alex Van (Reverend Tollhouse,others) Hmmm... This one is a toughie. When he played the Rev I didn't like him, when he played the Manager guy I did. My biggest "problem" was diction and speed. There are some actors that can pull off speaking very quickly, Mr. Van (last night anyway) could not. While he was commited to his character choices, kudos for that, it didn't really matter as I couldn't understand many of the things he was trying to say. An actor has but two jobs... To be seen and to be heard. Unfortunatly Mr.Van did not accomplish the second.

Dede Bloodworth (Sister Butterworth) Should have stolen the show and... didn't. That is what I got from this character. For the first few minutes I enjoyed her character but it, much like the show, reached a plateau about ten minutes in and just stayed there.

Topher Payne (Brother Brightbee) Well hummm again... Topher, first of all, was well cast for this part. His mane was perfect for this superhero wannabe and his voice was very commanding. I think he stayed right on the line of being a big character with out going to over the top, which would have been very easy with this part. However, 1. If you are playing a part of a cave man who wears a animal skin thing with holes in it DO NOT wear plaid boxers that I can see through one of the holes 2. If you are playing a cowboy in a wife beater take your nipple rings out. 3. If you are going to get Tatooed in real life, find something to cover them up as it is completely unbelievable when your are playing the previously mentioned cave man with a big tatoo on your thigh.

Kathleen Link (Oxana) By far the best performance on the stage. Her accent was perfect, her character choices big and clear and the best part of all?? She was the only Actor on the stage that I could understand every word she said. This is huge to me. Even when she was in the peanut costume I could hear her well and her diction was perfect. I also loved her hand movements in the costume, it added sooooo much to the scene.

Charles Swint (Vasil, others) The artistic director mentioned something about this before the show so I am not sure it Charles Swint played the part yesterday or not but none the less whoever did... Once again I have to say that this guy had a great idea for his character but if I can't understand what you are saying then it doesn't really matter. His Brother Hezakiah was funny but to me he milked it just a little to much.


The show in general started with a very funny idea but to me, as I mentioned before, reached a plateau about 5-10 mins in and just stayed right there. It was like a SNL movie. The Lady's Man is a very funny sketch but when you try to make a 1 1/2 hour movie out of it... it's not. While it may seem as though I have "raked this one over the coals" I attibute most of it to the script and not the actors themselves. I would go see any of them again but in a show where they were able to actually act. This was watching a masterbatory session on stage. I would once again like to state that I believe that was due to the script, NOT the actors. Low brow is low brow. Maybe I am just a snob as I love Pride & Prejudice at the Alliance that I saw the night before. Sister Elizabeth's Squimish Cheese balls left me just that, squimish.

Tyler Schaker [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
I most assuredly agree about the script, but... by line!
I must ask, did you have a good time or do you feel that you wasted the price of the ticket?
I most assuredly agree about the script, but... by line!
I must ask, did you have a good time or do you feel that you wasted the price of the ticket?
by tylers
I did have a good time. Possibly because I was sitting next to a hottie like you! Seriously though, I enjoyed the play much like I enjoy cheese cake. I love the first bite but I struggle to eat the whole piece. Does that make sence?
Just thought I'd chime in... by mooniemcmoonster
I haven't seen the show yet, but I wanted to comment on the tattoo thing. As an actress who has more than one tattoo, I think it is BEYOND unprofessional to not cover them up when they will be visible during a show. Both of mine are in unconvenient locations (one is at the nape of my neck and is blue and the other is on the inside of my right forearm and is pink) and they are both VERY difficult to cover effectively with makeup, but I do it. It boggles my mind that an actor would not cover up tattoos that the audience might see. UGH!
Tattoos by Parrott65
I know what you're talking about with the tat thing. Those that know me, know that I have one on my forearm and is very huge. I TRY to always wear something with long sleeves on stage, unless it's a character that would actually look good with a tat and short sleeves. When I HAVE to wear short sleeves and I shouldn't have a tat, I have a friend that does airbrush makeup. It's really neat, because it goes on in layers and ALMOST is virtually difficult to rub off. It's amazing how you can't tell that there is makeup there. Just a thought...
Oh was that you? by line!
I could have sworn I was sitting next to certified fool who was laughing his ass off most of the night. And with your ass, that's a lot of laughing buddy boy! But seriously, I must agree with you about the fun wearing thin over time. Although I feel that your review is a bit miserly at a "2", I will concede that mine might be a bit too generous at a "4". It nets to a "3" and that's fair if you ask me.
What is a 3? by tylers
Now isn't that the question... What is a 3. To me, a three is "average." It is a good performance. For all the reasons I stated above, not just the script but also the actors technical issues, I felt it was a below average. I don't think it is just about laughs, I laughed very heartily at "Dumb and Dumber" but it was still a bad movie. If the actors had perfect tech then I still would have only given this show a 3 because of the script which, in my opinion, was not that great. Maybe I am just a meanie or it could be because I have run out of the little yellow pills that my shrink gives me but I still think this show was below average and therefore a 2.
Well I had a good time in spite of it all by line!
I felt the production delivered a decent evening's entertainment for the ticket price and that's what I consider at least a "3".
by tylers
Last Word!
If I could just join in here.. by actor_luvin_fan
One question soo line is a girl??Or is tyler ( witch I highly doudt ) is a girl? I got confused when he said he was sitting by a hottie like you.
actor_luvin_fan
Fun Fun Fun!
by line!
Thursday, January 26, 2006
4.0
Let me start with the usual caveats: 1. I am an actor; 2. I don’t know anybody associated with this show; 3. I hope to be able to work with some of these folks sometime in the future (if the fates allow), but will be honest in this review anyway.

I had my first trip to Seven Stages last night to see “The Book of Liz”. It is a “fish out of water” story about Sister Elizabeth, who runs away from her sheltered Amish-like religious community and her wacky experiences in the “real” world, only to eventually realize “there’s no place like home”. The story is irrelevant and serves only as a framework on which to hang many, many jokes. Some are funny, however many are pointless and juvenile and often reflect a “throw it all at the wall and see what sticks” approach. Nonetheless, you can’t help but laugh at some of them. I think the only thing missing was a “booger” joke. If you are familiar with the work of writers Amy and David Sedaris, this should come as no surprise. If not, bring along your third grade sense of humor and you won’t have any problems.

As for the cast, I had the distinct impression I was watching a school play. Everyone was having lots of fun and delighting in “hamming it up”. I have trouble perceiving an actor’s skill when watching “pork on parade”, but the atmosphere of fun was contagious and their energy never flagged throughout the show. While everyone in the cast was fun to watch and had no trouble portraying their “over-the-top” characters, I would like to single out a few things:

Dede Bloodworth took “over-the-top” over the moon! She never missed a chance to chew some scenery (or props) and often drew my attention away from whomever else was onstage with her (meaning I enjoyed her, but felt sorry for whoever had to try to hold the audience’s attention against her). I can’t wait to see her onstage again!

Kathleen Link made her unbelievable characters believable. I actually had no problem accepting the English accent from Oxana, the Ukranian Mr. Peanut!

Charles Swint’s Brother Hezekiah brought the house down as he took an incredibly long time to do…everything!

Topher Payne’s Brother Brightbee was the epitome of self-centeredness. The only thing missing was a sparkling gleam as the light danced off his smile when he struck a pose.

Rachel Craw had the toughest role in this show: the lead. She was frequently called on to be the straight man for some pretty outlandish scenes and did a wonderful job of portraying innocence and bewilderment in a world gone mad.

Alex Van’s Reverend Tollhouse was not on a par with the “over-the-top” –ishness of the others. He seemed to be a little more tongue-in-cheek and occasionally seemed to get lost in the tidal wave of ham onstage. How dare you try to act sir! Perhaps I am mistaking the authoritarian traits of his character for a sense of respect for acting and perhaps an unwillingness to “go all the way” into rampant silliness.

My highest praise is for director Lee Nowell. The blocking was correct, comfortable and effective, the actors were prepared, the scene changes were smooth (and there were a lot of scene changes) and the entire experience was an absolute pleasure. As “goofy” (and I mean that in a good way) as the show was, it never descended into amateurism. If I were a drinking man, I would recommend that the audience have a few before coming to see this show. It’ll ease your way into the land of Sweaty Squeemish Chesseballs!

-Rial Ellsworth

[POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
'The Book of Liz' is Fabulous
by fimion
Friday, January 13, 2006
4.0
I was fortunate enough to go see "The Book of Liz" on monday, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. The story is rather absurd, but very funny. I would highly suggest people go and see this play.

Update: I have been asked for a bit more information rather than just a general statement of satisfaction.

First off, let me apologize for the original review. I was about to fall asleep when I wrote it (excuse me if this is not the greatest review in the world, but my writing abilities have never been exceptionally good.).

The story behind the play is rather absurd as it follows Sister Elizabeth Donderstock (or Liz for short) who has run away from her life in the "Squeamish" community (Which oddly resembles an Amish community). Things start to get a bit crazy both at home and for her as her dissapearance is noticed in the community and she meets up with a "peanut" from Ukrainia (yes, Ukrania, you didn't read that wrong.) and gets a job at a restaurant (where luckily for her, they dress up like the "Squeamish").

I would like to mention a hilarious performance by Dede Bloodworth as Sister Constance Butterworth. Her ability as this character to brighten the stage and cause fits of giggles throughout the audience is rarely matched by any of the other characters.

Overall the show has a good message (though they sure take a weird route to get there), and is highly amusing to watch. I will definitely be seeing this show again. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
WHY should I see it?? by Cavendish
You enjoyed yourself. Good for you. The story is "rather absurd, but very funny". Okay, but lots of stories are absurd, but funny. Since I don't know you, fimion, or your sense of humor or your sense of the absurd tell us WHY you think these thoughts. Tell us WHAT was funny/absurd. Tell us WHO was funny/absurd. In other words, if you're going to review a production...REVIEW IT!
If you just want to say you liked it then post it on the Forum.
updated by fimion
I updated the review. is that better?
Bravo Fimion! by Cavendish
Thank you! You see, I'm not familiar with this show but you now have given me some information on which to form an initial impression...and I thank you. This is one of the things this site is about. If I may offer a sincere suggestion, the respected critics on this site have said in the past that they will wait a day or two before writing their review. One of their reasons is that they, too, are tired and sleepy when they get home from a show. Another reason is a fair review, for most of us, requires some downtime in order to look at a show objectively. Most of us don't care about your writing skills as long as you can tell us what you really thought about the various aspects of a show. I hope to see you review again.


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