"HESPERIA" (Writers Theatre): Promised Land within a Gated Community

"HESPERIA" (Writers Theatre):  Promised Land within a Gated Community

#24.  I’m in the closet about religion.  Sixteen years of Catholic education has taught me that spirituality is best actualized on Sundays, DHO (days of holy obligation) or at home.  I’ve sat through lively dinner parties where conversation topics are intellectual, financial, political or sexual... but never spiritual.  People in my circles don’t talk about religion.  It’s taboo.

Writers Theatre presents HESPERIA.  Jess wants  to escape her past.  So, she runs away from LA and relocates in Hesperia.  She finds religion and changes.  Her new identity is Claudia.  And Claudia is saved, engaged and a virgin.  She finally has the life and guy she never knew she wanted.  She decides to invite her past to her wedding.  Ian shows up a few weeks early for the ceremony.  After a couple days of religious observance, Ian decides he want to be saved too.  But are some sins impossible to forgive?  HESPERIA looks like the promised land within a gated community.

Playwright Randall Colburn penned a ‘Touched By An Angel" charmer with underlying real humanity.  The setting is "Jesus Camp" off season.  The witty dialogue is Bible-speak porn-ed down.  And the demonic struggles are subtle and personal.  Each character is striving for happiness and hoping it’s God’s will.  Under the direction of Stuart Carden, the cast is almost to good to be true.  And that’s the basis for the intrigue.  I’m constantly trying to figure out ‘who are you and what do you want?‘  At the center of my analysis is Kelly O’Sullivan (Claudia) and Nathan Hosner (Ian).  O’Sullivan and Hosner amplify forbidden passion of separated soulmates. When they are together, you can almost see the invisible ties binding them.  Separately, O’Sullivan is born-again-virgin uptight and Hosner oozes a brooding sexuality.  Hosner’s interactions with the others is also captivating.  He plays it as an uncomplicated outsider.  The others are tempted.  An adorable Tyler Ross, a hilarious Rebecca Buller, and quirky Erik Hellman worship him instantly.  They all want to save him or do they?

Scenic Designer Chelsea Warren creates a simple but chapel-like look.  The stage is wooden planks sprouting cornstalks.  The backdrop is a colorful skyline of the big blue and green yonder.  When lit (Heather Gilbert), it looks like stained glass windows.  Going to HESPERIA is like going to church.  Colburn wrote the sermon.  Carden presides over the service. The talented cast deliver the message.  But if you’re not in the mood for a come-to-Jesus meeting, you might miss the point.

Running Time:  Ninety minutes with no intermission

At Writers Theatre, 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe

Written by Randall Colburn

Directed by Stuart Carden

Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 7:30pm

Thursdays and Fridays at 8pm

Saturdays at 4pm and 8pm

Sundays at 2pm and 6pm

Thru March 18th

Buy Tickets at www.writerstheatre.org

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