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'Our Lady' never quite gels into entertainment

By Autumn D. F. Hopkins

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Kanawha Player's production of "Our Lady of 121st Street" was an exercise in comical absurdity in its best moments and a complete flop of timing in its worst.

Disjointed and profanity-ridden, the play was hard to follow, compounded by an oppressively hot theater and a system of cooling fans that drowned out large portions of dialogue; it was a trial for the audience to endure. Many lines were lost and a similar number were forgotten or flubbed. Often, characters stood on stage in an uncomfortable silence waiting on fellow cast members to cue them or remember their own lines.

 The show is based on a neighborhood of characters who come together for a beloved (or hated, depending on the character's perspective) nun's wake and funeral. A series of seemingly disconnected vignettes plod on into infinity, seeming to never completely come together.

There are moments of touching sentiment: two brothers, one with a disability, caring for each other, a priest guiding a long-lost soul. And there are moments of comedy: over-inflated egos, cops and hookers bantering. But these few moments cannot save a play that never quite gels into entertainment.

 Several of the characters are amusing, especially Rooftop (the actor's real names are not linked with the characters they portray in the program). They deliver a few clever one-liners, but these humorous bits are not enough to hold the play together.

I am sorry to say that "Our Lady" was such a disappointment. I will applaud the large turn out of audience members and I hope that Kanawha Players finds more suitably entertaining material for future productions, they do have a talented stable of actors and it is sad to see their potential not fulfilled.

"Our Lady of 121st Street" runs again Saturday and Sunday at 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. Go see it and judge for yourself. Do not take young children; the subject matter and language are completely inappropriate.


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