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Back Stage - February 11, 2000

It's Good Enough for Me

Reviewed by Elias Stimac

Presented at Dixon Place, at Vineyard 26, 309 E. 26th St., NYC, Feb 3-26.

The Peculiar Works Project is living up to its name with its latest offbeat offering, "It's Good Enough for Me." The play, written by PWP artistic director Barry Rowell, combines religion, sex, philosophy and slapstick in an evening that defies categorization.

The play begins with an introduction of the narrator, a homeless person named Faith (Catherine Porter) who also serves as the Voice of God. The character has her omnipotent sights set on a small congregation of churchgoers who live in a seemingly prim and proper town. Naturally, there is very little primness or propriety among this dysfunctional group, which includes a naive choir singer (Judith Annozine), a mistreated secretary (Suzi Takahashi), a repressed alcoholic (Rae C. Wright), the preacher's neglected wife (Janet Bryant) and mother (Nomi Tichman), a tough-talking thug (Terrell Tilford), a makeup-wearing man (Derrick McGinty) and a misguided minister (John Marino). There is plenty of intrigue brewing behind closed doors among this gathering of less-than-pious parties.

The ringmaster in the middle of this madness is the Reverend Chester K. Tackleberry (Christopher Hurt), who sermonizes his flock by day and seduces its female members by night. Loping about like an evangelical Groucho Marx, Hurt delivers his physical and verbal sidestepping with hilarious results.

He and his fellow actors adeptly perform theatrical acrobatics to keep up with the quick-changing scenes in Rowell's script, which include comedy routines, confrontational scenes, projected film flashbacks, and melodramatic hymns.

Director Julia Whitworth does wonders keeping the focus of this clerical circus equally divided among the three rings of thought-provoking comedy, social satire, and all-out farce. The technical elements cleverly contribute to the shenanigans, including Ray Neufeld's stylish set, Peter Nigrini's versatile lighting, Karin Eckert's period costumes, and funny silent film footage by Manoiseca. Charles Eversole offers stalwart musical direction using arrangements by Daniel T. Denver.