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Theatre Review (LA): Jawbone of an Ass by Nan Schmid at the Lillian Theatre

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Jawbone of an Ass, currently at the Lillian Theatre, is a collaboration between Circle X Theatre and several of its alums. Playwright Nan Schmid is also an alum of Second City and the author of the acclaimed  play Tallulah, which she wrote, acted in, and produced. She has been working in New York as of late but has come back to town to present her zany take on suburban mid-America. She plays Paige Marie Hollister who is missing her husband. As it turns out she is responsible for his disappearance.

Her best friend and jealous neighbor, Cora Ann Worley, decides to become a detective and find the missing man. Cora Anne introduces Paige to a best-selling author and religious leader, Dr. Peter D. Admore, who persuades her to enter the Pillsbury Bake-Off. Lots of twisted turns continue to happen, including the revelation of each character's hidden secret, to give us a humorous evening in the theatre.

Nan Schmid plays Paige as an uptight religious fanatic who is overly polite and very repressed. Eliza Cole is her wacky friend who has her own set of repressed desires and feeling. Michael McColl plays the Dr. Admore and is suitably torn between his "calling" and his fascination with women’s clothes. All three performers have a background in improvisation that at time lets then succumb to camp gesture and lose the sight of any truth except the truth of being zany. This can get tiring and I found myself wishing that I were watching a one-act.

Don’t get me wrong, the performers are all talented but the play ends up seeming like one long Saturday Night Live sketch. Jim Anzide does a good job of keeping things moving. The set by Steve Johnson is part Paige’s kitchen, and part offices of Dr. Admore, as well as a raised platform on which he delivers his religious tirade. Costumer Christa Armendariz has designed some funny costumes to fit the mood. Jawbone of an Ass plays at the Lillian Theatre until May 29.

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About Robert Machray

  • Jet submitted this to Digg and wrote: BlogCritics feature “Stage Mage” features writer Robert Machray’s review of the world premiere of a zany new play by Nan Schmid, Jawbone of an Ass, which opens at the Lillian Theatre in LA.