Theater review: '100 Saints You Should Know' at Elephant Space
A priest in crisis and a box of groceries trigger a dark night of the comic soul in Kate Fodor’s wry and affecting “100 Saints You Should Know,” now receiving its West Coast premiere at the Elephant Space.
When Father Matthew (Brendan Farrell) takes a leave of absence after questionable photographs are found in the parish rectory, he retreats to the dubious care of his passive-aggressive mother (Pamela Roylance). But God’s restless children won’t leave the young priest alone, and pretty soon he’s ministering to a sexually confused grocer’s son (Marco Naggar), the single mother who cleans the rectory (Cheryl Huggins) and her hilariously angry daughter (Kate Huffman). But who is Matthew to advise on lust and salvation when he can’t even bear to pray?
This is familiar territory, but Fodor shifts lightly between the sacred and the sensual, and “Saints” mines its conventional setup with surprise: A game of Scrabble between starched mother and repressed son ruptures into something strange and revelatory; an encounter between goth chick Huffman and goofball Naggar spirals giddily out of control.
Under Lindsay Allbaugh’s skilled direction, the excellent cast brings us close to their characters’ confusion and pain. Yet in Act 2, the play sags, circling itself, and we get ahead of the story — an awkwardness mirrored by Jeffery Eisenmann’s busy paneled set. Scenery be damned: Fodor wants to delineate spaces of the soul, whether empty, God-struck, or just in search.
-- Charlotte Stoudt
“100 Saints You Should Know,” The Elephant Space, 6322 Santa Monica Boulevard, Hollywood. 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 7 p.m. Sundays. Ends June 26. $20. Contact: (877) 369-9112 or www.elephanttheatrecompany.com Running time: 2 hours, 15 minutes.
Photo: Brendan Farrell and Kate Huffman. Credit: Sven Ellirand.