Jawbone Of An Ass

Jawbone Of An Ass
Hill Street Theatre (Venue 41)
3 stars ***

IF THERE is a phenomenon in 21st century society that needs a thorough satirising send-up, it is the sanctimonious posturing of America’s Christian right, with its famous unwillingness to accept those biblical strictures on rich men, camels, and the eyes of needles.  So it’s good to see Mortimer Olive productions of Los Angeles visit Edinburgh with their production of this new play by Nan Schmid, in which a woman who belongs to a fundamentalist Christian community somewhere in smalltown America seems strangely unconcerned at the disappearance of her famously unfaithful husband, unperturbed by the strange emotive comments of her neighbour, and easily distracted by the presence of a charismatic visiting preacher.

In the end, this short one-hour drama suffers from a slightly exaggerated comic style.  It’s part pantomime send-up and part serious social satire, with a touch of Monty Python grotesquery thrown in; and the writer’s all-round contempt for the pious and badly-dressed – “we are saved to serve” they all chorus, to the recorded sound of baa-ing sheep – is obvious from scene one.  Still, there’s plenty of enjoyable lunacy and vigorous pastiche in this jolly LA comedy; combined with an uneasy feeling that however absurd these characters are, real life currently offers them some serious competition.

Joyce McMillan
Until 29 August
p. 272


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