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Theater review: 'Tent Meeting' at The Banshee

November 26, 2009 | 11:02 am

400.tent It’s a hard-knock life for Becky Ann (Amanda Deibert) the down-home Madonna of “Tent Meeting,” an evangelical comedy now at the Banshee. Her baby was born without a face or limbs, making it tough to know which end to diaper. But never underestimate the power of the Holy Spirit. The newborn’s granddaddy, Rev. Edward Tarbox (Gary Ballard), receives a sign from above and drags Becky Ann and her dubious brother, Darrell (Travis Hammer), on a road trip to the promised land — a.k.a. Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.

Levi Lee, Larry Larson, and Rebecca Wackler’s quirky, meandering satire works more as a character study than a story. As director, Wackler pushes her excellent cast to embrace their respective lunacies, and the evening’s chief diversion is seeing who can out-crazy the others: the reverend, who decides the freakish babe is the Second Coming? Darrell, who imagines his appendix scar is a glorious war wound? Or Becky Ann, who may not be as oblivious as she pretends?

Most of the action goes down in the family’s cramped trailer, courtesy of scenic designers Mark Colson and PJ King, but what begins as a brisk comedy of claustrophobia quickly begins to stall. By the time we reach the play’s climactic final scene, there’s little to invest in. Becky Ann and her little monster deserve a more rapturous apotheosis. 

– Charlotte Stoudt

“Tent Meeting” The Banshee, 3435 W. Magnolia, Burbank. 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays. Ends Dec. 13. $15-$18. Contact: 818-846-5323 or  Running time: 2 hours.

Photo: Amanda Deibert. Credit: S. Branney.