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June 9, 2023:

Flayed reviewed by Rob Stevens

The flyer for Josiah Blunt’s one-person play at the Hollywood Fringe Festival describes the title Flayed as a verb: to have your skin peeled from your corpse or carcass. In the play, young Joshua Marsh, a recent graduate from a pastor’s college in conservative Virginia, is about to give his first sermon. It’s sort of an audition to see if the church will hire him as their Associate Pastor. Note to the squeamish among you: no skin is peeled from Joshua’s carcass. Rather he peels back the layers of lies he has created to hide the fact that he is a very closeted and tormented homosexual. All these fairy tale characters—an ogre, a witch, a milkmaid, a knight, a mermaid, a foul-mouthed guide, etc.–he has created in his mind express his deep-seated sexual desires. The script is a hot mess as it rambles on for nearly 90 minutes before just ending with a blackout and no real resolution.

(photo by Richard Dean)

Blunt gives a committed performance, and his fairy tale creations have some variations to them. He seems to really enjoy playing the female roles. However, there is not much variation from his Pastor Wallace, who opens the Sunday morning services like a TV evangelist on speed. His Joshua starts out a bit mild and meek, but he soon is talking, exclaiming and gesturing just like Pastor Wallace as both become religious hysterics. Director David Bridel tries to inject some shading into the proceedings which includes a lot of audience participation including a funny sequence with a churn. Unfortunately, the writing defeats him. Rather than a director, Blount needs an editor STAT.


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