Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Cleveland & Akron

Bash: Latterday Plays
none to fragile theater
Review by David Ritchey

Also see David's review of A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder

Andrew Narten
Photo by Brian Kenneth Armour
Neil LaBute's Bash: Latterday Plays was first produced Off Broadway in 1999, and shown on Showtime in 2001. The script includes three plays, each dealing with a topic or subject forbidden by the Mormon Church. LaBute, formerly a Mormon, lived in Utah and studied at Brigham Young University. Each of the three plays deals with a shocking, painful topic.

In the first play, Iphigenia in Orem, Man (Andrew Narten) sits at a table in a bar and talks directly to the audience. He tells of his daughter's death. Her mother is shopping. Man is watching TV and later discovers the child is dead. As his story progresses, he tells of receiving a phone call from a friend at the corporate office who tells him he's about to be laid off. He knows if he pushes his daughter down lower in the bed she will smother to death and then the company will not lay him off.

Next is A Gaggle of Saints, in which Sue (Katie Wells) and John (Brian Kenneth Armour) tell about a weekend date as part of a fraternity party. John laughs about a gay couple they see in the park. The two men kiss passionately and go their separate ways. One of the men goes into a public restroom. John and his fraternity brothers follow and assault the man.

The third play, whose title Medea Redux is a clue to the outcome, Woman (Alanna Romansky) sits in a chair, barely moving. She tells of her high school teacher seducing her when she was 13. As the affair progressed, she got pregnant and gave birth to a son. She struggled financially. The child's father taught at a university, married and became financially secure. Woman's son wanted to meet his father. She arranged the meeting in the lobby of a hotel. The father and son got along well, she reports. Because of this play, LaBute was disfellowshipped from the Mormon Church.

Each of the plays is mesmerizing, with the evening running almost two hours without intermission. The subject matter of each play is painful. I'm tempted to gasp "How could he, she, they do this?"

The performances in this none too fragile production are stellar. The four performers have extensive experience. Narten tells his story and his face shows the pain he feels for letting his daughter die. But, it's too late for his character to do anything but sit in a bar and drink and hope to find forgiveness.

Brian Kenneth Armour seems to go somewhere in his soul as John expresses delight for the violence he perpetuates. He smiles, grins and expresses pleasure describing each kick, punch, and bash of the gay man. Katie Wells's Sue stays away from anything serious. She wants to describe her dress, her partying, and the new pre-engagement ring John gave her.

Alanna Romansky seldom moves as she tells her Medea-like story. Yet her eyes show her pain for what she has done.

LaBute is a talented playwright, with a superior command of language.

Sean Derry (director) has the ability to handle LaBute's language and slice the lines with pauses, making these stories more poignant.

The none too fragile theater has a winning (if too long) production on its stage. Maybe one intermission would have made the evening more pleasant.

Bash: Latterday Plays continues through November 16, 2015, at none too fragile theater, 1835 Merriman Road, Akron, Ohio. (Enter through Pub Bricco.) For ticket information, take a look at'.

The company's next show will be Pure Shock Value (January 29 through February 13, 2016).

Bash: Latterday Plays by Neil LaBute
Man: Andrew Narten
Sue: Katie Wells
John: Brian Kenneth Armour
Woman: Alanna Romansky
Costume Design: Frank C. Comunale
Website, Box Office and Promotion: Jaysen Mercer
Director: Sean Derry

- David Ritchey

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