This week marks the opening of the first VegSOUP production of the semester-The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told, written by Paul Rudnick and directed by Renee Hartz.
The play retells the creation story from the Bible, only this time it's not Adam and Eve, it's Adam and Steve. They are played by Jamal Abudnnasir and Jason Gonser, respectively. The other first couple on earth, Jane and Mabel, are played by Abby Kraai and Diane Jenkins).
And yes, they're all gay. Does it seem a bit paradoxical for the creation story of the Bible to be told by a gay and a lesbian couple when the very same text is said to condemn such relationships? Well, that's the point. The play calls into question almost every kind of stereotype from religion to sexuality to gender roles by taking one of the oldest (and now, most fabulous) stories ever told and flipping it completely upside down.
The apparent religious content of an undergraduate-run production seems surprising, but Renee Hartz, a Christian herself, explained that her own purpose was to reverse a stereotype, that "Christianity is not all conservative. We can have fun with it too." And fun the cast does have. The first act, the actual creation story, is a hilarious, often raunchy play within a play, with a fictional stage manager played by Katlind Scholis acting as God. What ensues after her first stage direction, "Creation of the world-Go," is a highly sexualized, comically charged, and unique rendition of the traditional creation story.
This first part of the show is rather shocking at first with its near nudity, raw language, and blatant sexuality. However, the second act switches gears drastically, and the audience gets to see the "real" Adam and Steve-a gay couple living in present-day New York City. The humor never disappears completely, but the story becomes more serious, and the characters more developed.
While Abudnnasir and Gonser's chemistry as Adam and Steve on stage is palpable and their story is an extremely poignant one, it is the smaller parts that add the real color and life to the show. The few actors (Eric Puchalski, Angela Prodrick, Dan McConvey, and Erin Zimmerman), who play many parts-from a handicapped lesbian rabbi to a go-go elf-are where the true entertainment lies. Even the crew, or "Kurago," (Jack Frederick, Johnny Gasper, Emma Leigh, and Samantha Seerman) is an integral part of the show, as they do much more than moving the relatively simple set around.
There is a lot to take in-sometimes too many stereotypes are presented at once for an audience member to realize which one to find the most horrifing. Some of the comic acts seem unrelated, and a few sporadic song-and-dance numbers are a bit out of place, but all serve the ultimate purpose of keeping the audience entertained.
Looking beyond the ridiculous sexual antics and outrageous stereotypes is an underlying message of enduring love. More important than who's gay, who's Jewish, and who's having sex with who is the exploration of how human relationships work, especially when put under the kinds of social pressures these situations can create. The more obvious issues at hand-homosexuality and religion-serve more as an unconventional conduit for the real message of the show. No matter what your faith, The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told is the story of how to believe in love, even when there is nothing else to believe in.