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Review: 'Missionary Position' at Celebration Theatre

February 12, 2009 |  2:30 pm

Missionary_2 Steven Fales -- ex–prostitute, ex-addict and ex-Mormon -- doesn’t exactly seem like a poster boy for religious tolerance. But his new solo show, “Missionary Position,” now extending at Celebration Theatre, feels right in tune with Obama's Era of Accountability.

Part 2 of the story that Fales began in “Confessions of a Mormon Boy,” “Missionary” has minimal sex but plenty of seduction. Fales recounts his adventures as a young Mormon missionary in Portugal, where his genuine desire to spread joy was co-opted by the LDS machine’s conversion strategy; to paraphrase Mamet, always be saving. Let’s just say the Mormon Church seems to keep track of numbers a lot better than Wall Street. (The show’s most disturbing sequence involves the “spiritual rape” of a young Catholic girl, bullied into baptism.)

The boyish Fales is certainly engaging; you can see how his Pepsodent smile won converts by the dozen. His show, however, needs focusing. The chronology feels fuzzy, and Fales resorts to a camp twinkle when he’s missing a segue or a deeper turn on the material. But something truly subversive happens when he dons genuine Mormon temple garments and starts spilling ritual secrets in this out and proud theater; it’s like the pope turning up in “Hairspray.” A costume is a costume -- only endowed with meaning by believers. Whatever deity you pray to, “Missionary Position” asks a valid question: What is the true care of a soul?

-- Charlotte Stoudt

“Missionary Position,” Celebration Theatre, 7051B Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood. 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays. Ends Feb. 22. $25. (323) 957-1884. Running time: 90 minutes.

Photo: Steven Fales. Credit: Efrain Schunior