At the risk of sounding sacrilegious, "The Tricky Part" is the fastest, least furious one-man show about Catholic child sex that you’re likely to see at this year's Fringe. Orlando actor John E. Palmer, assuming the voice of playwright Martin Moran, begins his tales with lighthearted anecdotes from his Colorado childhood at Christ the King parochial school: Jesus crucified next to the classroom clock, “nailed at quarter to 3”; the nun who looked like a “moving cube of church with spectacles” and spoke like she had “grief or cheese stuck in her throat”; the priest whose idea of sex education was admonishing students that “genitalia are for procreation only.” But his story quickly takes a dark turn when a youth camping trip with an ex-seminarian counselor ends in an encounter that haunts Martin for the next 30 years.
Author Moran has packed lots of big words and ideas into this hourlong script, and despite some struggles during the press preview, Palmer proves deft at making the dense text seem conversational. Mark Edward Smith’s restrained direction keeps the monologue from becoming static without upstaging the story. The story being told is repellent yet compelling, with disturbingly poetic depictions of pederasty (you have been warned).
However, the script’s structure could use some shaping; it meanders through digressions and detours like a shaggy dog joke, and when a crucial scene finally arrives it’s read out of a diary, draining the moment of immediacy. Martin’s relationship with his still-in-denial molester is complex and unexpectedly devoid of anger, an interesting psychological choice that makes their climactic confrontation anticlimactically bloodless. Still, if you can get past the subject’s ick factor, this play’s prayer that “what harms us might come to restore us” is worthy of an amen.
"The Tricky Part"
John Peros Casting in assoc. w/GianniQuest Industries – Orlando, FL
Rating: 13 and up