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April 7, 2009

BAPTIZED TO THE BONE - SEX AND LUST IN BAPTIST LAND

Pictured (right) Colin Stuart (Preacher)
Paul rodrigues (Ottis)

Lee Hartgrave Reviews -April 7, 2009

BAPTIZED TO THE BONE

GET ON YOUR KNEES AND PRAY

Religion can be such fun, especially in North Carolina, where Baptists are like locusts that wait to devour the crops. “Baptized to the bone is a Southern Noir play that gives us plenty of insights into how religion can screw up your mind. It’s a sharp commentary on religious hypocrisy.

There is a Preacher who quits his job at the Mill to Preach from the Pulpit. His wife Gladys is not happy with her life and does not like going to the church so she fakes a headache every time Sunday comes around. But not going to Church is not the only reason that Gladys wants to stay home. She has a younger swain that comes to visit her. Gladys is older -- he is younger. He is hot to trot – and so is Gladys. Think of Barbara Stanwyck in ‘Double Indemnity’. Clothes literally fly around the rather plain Trailer Park d├ęcor as Gladys and Otis make out on the couch. The younger man is sexy and enticing and Gladys gives him money every time for the tumble. Hey, you would do the same.

There is more going on here than meets the eye. On the other side of the coin – Ottis is also wrangling money out of the Preacher. Seems that many years ago, they had a hot and steamy relationship. In this case Ottis is quite happy to share his sex with both Gladys and the Preacher. The young Hustler, Ottis is after money “I need it to put on my show the first ‘Gospel Poetry Opera’. I need enough money to get to New York.” – he drawls. When Gladys asks him to recite some of the Opera – Otis fumbles around and mumble jumble comes out of his sexy mouth. When you see this Actor (Paul Rodrigues) – you will also be eager to open your wallet. James Dean is alive and well on the NCTC stage.

Rodriques gives a true look at a dark, seductive, clever and scheming young man who knows what people want to pay for. On the other hand the Preacher is also good-looking and no one would want to throw him out of bed. But he doesn’t exude the sexual attitude that Ottis does. But then again, he’s a preacher and is bound to keep a stiff upper lip and not show much emotion.

EXTRAS: Amy Penney (the Preachers wife) is just terrific as the lusting housewife that wants a baby and will do anything to have one. She is deeply moving in a flawless performance! Colin Stuart (The Preacher) gives a revelatory performance as a conflicted man of God and Sexual desire. He’s unforgettable! Paul Rodrigues (Ottis) is Flat-Out Fabulous in this great stage performance!
What else is a good reason to see this play? Well, there are guns that go off, there is lying and cheating and stealing. As if that’s not enough, wait until you see the last scene. ‘Bonny and Clyde’ has nothing on it - AMAZING!

AT THE NEW CONSERVATORY THEATRE CENTER ON VAN NESS

RATING: FOUR GLASSES OF CHAMPAGNE!!!! (highest rating) –trademarked-
(((Lee Hartgrave has contributed many stories to the San Francisco Chronicle Sunday Datebook section and produced a long-running Arts segment on PBS KQED)))

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