Left: 'Honest lawyer' (and impressive deity) Paul Schecter.
The Thistle Dew Theatre is small, but large enough for original comedy! I never did learn what the set-up line title of the show really meant (Playwright: Matt Henf; Director: Maggie Adair Upton), but that is probably less important than that it starts the ball rolling on a comedic interpretation of the courtship of the Virgin Mary (Brianne Hidden) and Joseph (Ryan Williams).
There were several upbeat songs (Musical Director: Kathy Lauber) that were fun. In Act I, 'Men Are Dumb' (Brianne Hidden), and 'God Don't Diet' (Paul Schecter): In Act II, 'Stoned Like Steven' (Willie Jacobitz), and the finale, 'Give Me A Sign.'
I hadn't seen Brianne perform in six years, and I had forgotten: nice voice!
The show had a mad, improv quality about it that alternately was good and bad. The playwright was open to suggestions from the cast, which meant that an overall conception of the work tended to get lost in well-meaning but puzzling hyperbolic tangents. For example, the drug reference in 'Stoned Like Steven' seemed apropos of nothing, or at least nothing in antiquity, but present nonetheless to justify another improv riff.
The stand-up comedic monologues offered by Gabriel (Kevin Menager), particularly at the top of Act II, verged on brilliance, but the sheen did not last, and soon the show was searching for new directions.
I was also a bit baffled by some of the sexual humor in the show, which struck me as a little gratuitous, since the show was only partly about love and romance. There was plenty of sexual humor in the show we saw last night too ("Prelude To A Kiss"), but there the humor was more central to the theme of the show. Here, it was used to initiate new tangential flights of fancy, some of which weren't necessary.
So, good and bad elements all wrapped up in one. Basically, it's an entertaining show, and I liked the songs, but the playwright needs to weed out the tangents and decide what he wants to keep.
I liked the biographical note inserted into the program by Ryan Williams, which I quote:
Ryan is glad to be returning to the Thistle Dew after an occupationally imposed hiatus, having recently left the dangerous world of retail management for the much safer world of hazardous waste.The show continues through March 10th.