Actress Eileen Tull from Chicago apprehensively enters the stage, her voice shaking a bit. Her note cards fall to the floor. She begins to wing it, improvising. A good Catholic, she repeatedly apologizes to the audience for not being prepared. Tull runs off and on the stage several times setting up the scene with props. She places two coffee cups on the table. Adds a covered bowl. We all wait for the guest to appear.
She sits and nervously shares tidbits about growing up Catholic. She was a good churchgoer, going through the motion of dubious prayers and participating in traditional church rituals. But still lacks serious belief.
In the midst of her spiritual doubt, she experiences a miracle: the sighting of Jesus on a large sweet potato. This inspires her to believe that she and Jesus are friends. We’re all waiting for him. It’s to be the second coming of Christ.
But, he never shows up.
This production never seems to show up either. Lumbering pauses, clunky physical acting and an annoying habit of the actress obscuring punch lines by rushing her lines combine to drag down the production. The audience never expected Jesus to return, but Tull needs to do a better job convincing us that he really, really was on his way.
It was hot and stuffy in the upstairs performance space at the First Lutheran Church, on the east edge of Washington Park. The first floor was decidedly cooler. It’s a great location, and a welcome addition to the Fringe stages.
Read the official 32-page FRINGE FESTIVAL GUIDE here and find the full performance lineup here.