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March 19, 2017:

God and Sex reviewed by Rob Stevens

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Actress/playwright Wendy Michaels has written a semi-autobiographical play, God and Sex which is being produced on the stage of The Other Space at the Santa Monica Playhouse. The play is loosely based on Michaels’ experiences leading up to her wedding and first year of marriage in 1997. That experience might have been better left behind the door of her therapist’s office. I only hope Michaels’ life is not as unfocused as her writing. The play has a new revelation or inexplicable scene nearly every five minutes. The 75-minute one-act has more sudden plot twists and turns than an Agatha Christie mystery. The real mystery here is how did this ever get produced? The play comes across as a badly written first draft in need of much re-writing and work-shopping. Amy (Rebecca Lincoln) is a former lesbian who, after three years of dating him, is set to marry Tim (Donald Rizzo) at his parents’ quaint country church in the Appalachian hills of North Carolina. The church’s minister (Dennis Delsing) is not sure that is such a good idea since Tim is an Episcopalian and Amy thinks she may be Lutheran but is willing to be baptized Episcopalian(?). The minister also gets the impression that they only want to get married so they can sleep together in her father’s house. The minister has a long set of rules for marriage in his church that are good for a few laughs. There is also a bit of humor when Amy describes the church’s orange shag carpeting as “something a clown would throw up.” That about ends the comic portion of this self-described comedy-drama. Amy has invited her ex-lover Karen (Andrea Gwynnel Morgan) to be her bridesmaid but doesn’t want anyone to know of their past relationship. She’s also not keen on Karen bringing her current flame as her date. Her father Phil (Delsing) and his new wife Marilee (Valerie Gould) don’t seem that vested in the upcoming nuptials and wants the couple to watch the movie When Harry Met Sally before getting married. The wedding does go off and Amy’s gay brother (Delsing), diagnosed as schizophrenic, attends with his lover and caretaker and gets shunned by their father. Shortly after returning to Los Angeles after their honeymoon in Sedona, Tim loses his part-time job as well as losing his father to lung cancer, causing a financial strain on the marriage. Amy had intended to quit her good paying job to go back to acting but is forced to keep being the breadwinner. There never seemed to be much chemistry between the couple who met up again and started dating 15 years after high school. Amy confides her problems to Karen and the two grow close again amid much wine drinking and Tim’s growing consternation. The marriage finally ends in divorce when Tim gets a good paying job that requires him to move to Boston. Amy tries to rekindle the spark with Karen but she also is leaving town with her new love. After five months of AA, Amy visits Rev. Katherine (Gould) and bristles as being called a lesbian until she discovers the Rev. is also one. The play abruptly ends. The audience could have used some of that wine to make this easier to swallow. Director Chris DeCarlo keeps the pace moving through the many scenes and his cast does what it can with the meager script. The video projections by Fritz Davis are the show’s best asset as they clearly give a sense of place to the various locales.

2stars

Santa Monica Playhouse, 1211 4th St. in Santa Monica. Ends May 13. 310-394-9779 ext 1 or http://santamonicaplayhouse.com/god-and-sex.html

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