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Church is in Session at Available Light Theatre

Walker Evans Walker Evans
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The latest production from Available Light Theatre starts up tonight as the local performance arts group takes to the stage with Church, a play by Young Jean Lee.

If there’s a fine line between religious faith and supernatural absurdity, then Church quickly throws all of that out the window and instead proceeds to unfold in a nonlinear and sometimes chaotic fashion.

The story is delivered to the audience by four traveling Reverends – Jose, Casey, Eleni, and Kate (played by Ian Short, Acacia Duncan, Eleni Papaleonardos and Kate Watts respectively). The four characters cycle through their religious tales with various sermons, prayers, songs, and dance routines. These stories contextually run the gamut from thought-provoking religious speeches to ridiculously silly dreamlike fables.

The actors’ performances were as stellar as you’ve probably already come to expect from an Available Light show, and each had their moment to shine during the more emotional segments. Most impressively though was one particularly high-energy dance routine that nearly left me out of breath just from watching.

It feels as if the goal of the play is to cast a wide enough spiritual net to be able to speak to everyone in the audience for at least a few brief moments, and then abruptly move in an entirely different direction. The resulting experience will vary for each individual attending the show. Some may find themselves uncomfortable with the transitions, while others can be heard giggling with glee during the tales involving mummies and unicorns.

Church ends up running just over an hour with no intermission, mirroring the real life event for many denominations. The shorter run time ends up working perfectly for the pacing of the performance. You’re left knowing that you’ve just experienced a lot in the past hour, and in a way thankful that your mind can now rest and start to process all that you’ve absorbed.

The Available Light performance of Church is directed by Matt Slaybaugh. Multiple shows take place through August 22nd at The Vern Riffe Center, and a full list of times can be found online at Church09.com. As always, Available Light features their “Pay What you Want” system for attendance.

The trailer for Church can be found below:

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