The New Colony presents
2433 N. Lincoln
Written by Evan Linder and Tara Sissom
Directed by Megan Johns
Thru March 13th
Running Time: Two hours includes a ten minute intermission
Shut the F.... front door! G-o-d is my b-u-d! Campy Christianity has never been more hilarious! The New Colony theatre company presents the world premiere of 11:11 in the studio theatre at Victory Gardens. The show opens with camp counselors zealously working on translating pop songs to Christian tunes: "Hit me, Jesus, one more time." These saved young adults have returned to their childhood summer camp to shepherd the next generation into the religious ties that bind. On the night before the kids arrive to Camp Methuselah Pines, half of the counselors accidentally take Ecstasy. What happens next? It's a bible licking, crotch rubbing, bable writing, come to Jesus party!
The energetic and enthusiastic ensemble is cast perfectly as camp counselors. Leading the funny flock, Tim Cunningham (Kip) is the camp director "needing a semi" when he's calling for a partial prayer circle. Tara Sissom (Dana) is the eager jumping up and down, t-shirts for the Lord, embracing the new girl kind-of-Christian comical. Caitlin Chuckta (Siobhan), the sanctimonious "why didn't you use your brush with death to evangelize to Matt Lauer," isn't just giving "it" up for the Lord. Saved since she was six, Sara Gitenstein (Anna) struggles with a sin-free existence and lack of a good conversion story. Kevin Stangler (Nate) is the rogue bending the rules to convert the world. This cult-like band of friends exploit wholesome humor from every angle. LOL!
The set is pure camp nostalgic. Nick Sieben has designed a rustic craft cabin complete with god's eyes, beads, and glitter. The traditional camp mania of activity schedules and notices has a sprinkling of religious fervor with "Fire Up for Jesus" posters and inspirational felt cross banners. Thea Lux has produced original songs and incidental music for the show. There are moments of awkward quiet especially in the second act that could use her special touch for a little "lifting voices to the Lord" background music.
Siobhan sums it up best with, "I think the ecstasy has worn off." About half way through the second act, the script takes a preachy turn. It's a dramatic gear shift and a bit of a buzz killer for such a chuckle fest. WWJD? Keep the messages and find the humor. In the dual role of playwrights and actors, Evan Linder and Tara Sissom have written a hilarious tale. They don't poke fun of Christianity. They find the balance of making fun of and having fun with Christianity. Even the play's name, chosen as a favorite bible verse, has a funny twist to its genesis. Linder and Sissom's efforts seem so respectful in their humor that I wonder if they have been saved and The New Colony is a religious faction.
Haunted with his own Promise Keeper memories, about the show, Steve says "Praise the Lord!"
WAITING FOR THE SHOW
My prayers have been answered. There has been a miracle! A marvelous restaurant has been discovered in the mini theatre district on Lincoln Avenue. Directly across from the old Biograph Theatre in the old Three Penny Theatre is the beautifully renovated Lincoln Hall, 2424 N. Lincoln. From the folks who brought us Schuba-Harmony Grill, it's a simple but delicious menu. Steve and I go splitzy with Mexican flatbread with chorizo, fried green tomato salad, bbq burger and peanut butter cheesecake brownie. Coupled with a nice Malbec and the most friendly, attentive server ever, Lincoln Hall is the chosen one! I'll definitely be back... with flowers and candles to mark the sacred grounds! Thank you, Jesus!