“It’s a hit! A palpable hit!” Judging by audience reaction, that’s how I would have to characterize the performance of Soul Juice by Devil’s Deuce that I attended.
Josiah Pratt (Dylan Shelton) and Ruth Gardener (Annie Kalahurka) are newly minted born-again Christians whom God has sent on a mission: to convert the audience with “Soul Juice.” This involves saving our souls with Saturday Night Live-style sketches, including songs, jokes, puppetry and even a clown show.
Although I don’t think that audience members believed they were going to be saved, they were happy to listen to the witty and sincere opening number concerning the duo’s previous lives of sin. Ruth confesses her transgressions, including the fact that she “wore tight clothes and black lipstick to the mall.”
Another obvious critical target of Soul Juice was that of evolution. With the song “Welcome to the Creation Museum,” the pair provided an energetic set of hand motions to drive home their point. Puppets of a monkey and of a hapless Charles Darwin were also introduced to this multi-media program.
Our rabble-rousers segued from abstinence to homosexuality, with each topic getting a little more outrageous. The odd thing was that we’ve all heard arguments similar to these in real life. The parody wasn’t always that far from reality.
Pratt came out as a cowboy dressed in black and sounding a lot like John Wayne. He was playing God, trying to convince his disgruntled AIDS bacteria to continue causing mass destruction.
When the Pope’s position on not sending condoms to Africa was stated, the crowd grew seriously silent. I even heard a few gasps. It seems that Cincinnatians are comfortable with jokes on Fundamentalists but don’t go so far as insulting the Pope! (I say keep the bit in the show. Every good parody must push the envelope of controversy now and then.)
All in all, though, the crowd hooted and hollered and had a great time. The performances were loud and funny, and for the most part the material was quite witty. The leading duo was greatly assisted in the puppetry aspects of the show by their “intern,” Claire Aberasturi.
Soul Juice is entertaining and surprising, and the actor/writers have provided a sharply written and performed entertainment.
(Get upcoming performance dates and venue details here.)