Fringe 2015 review: "Dragness of God"


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Michael Wanzie's parody of Agnes of God manages to be even campier than the movie made from the Broadway original, and that's saying something. He also stars in the Mother Miriam Ruth role, while Tommy Wooten munches what scenery there is as the doubting doctor and an absolutely transcendent Doug Ba'aser channels loopy sister Agnes. (If you haven't seen the play/film: a skeptical doctor is sent to a cloistered convent to investigate the birth and immediate death of an infant to an, er, simple young nun.)

This show's been kicking around longer than Jane Fonda's been chucking up her lunch, but age did nothing to reduce the audience for Dragness of God on opening night – the line looped around twice outside the Margeson Theater and snaked its way outside the building. And once those sweaty minions made their way into the Orange Venue, Wanzie, Wooten and Ba'aser gave them every inch of the campfest they were there for.

Actually, the inches were mostly given by Dan Huffy (as the Holy Ghost), nude except for a set of feathery wings and parading around the stage like it was his own Victor(ia)'s Secret runway show. Kudos to the first-time Fringe performer, who was called out several times as a device to sell tickets – it should work.

Wooten, who returned from North Carolina for his first Orlando Fringe in nine years, stalks the stage in the Dr. Livingston role, scornfully flinging out lines in a chewy accent very much reminiscent of Elizabeth Ashley (originator of the role on Broadway). Wanzie keeps things moving, until s/he goes on a drug bender toward the end of the show. And if you have seen the film, Ba'aser's Meg Tilly-isms will have you (holy) rolling.

At the performance I attended, a few of the jokes would have fallen flat (I mean, dead baby jokes can be tough to pull off), were it not for the presence of one of the best laughers I've ever heard. I mean the kind of laugh that not only encourages others to find whatever funny, but is in itself so hilarious that it causes a feedback loop of helpless, gut-deep giggles. If that guy wasn't a plant, the producers should consider comping him to every show of the run. As long as Huffy chooses him to dance with every time, as he did at this show, I'm sure he'll keep coming.

Dragness of God: And the Naked Holy Ghost
Doug Ba'aser Presents – Orlando, FL
Venue: Orange
Length: 75 minutes
Rating: 18 and up
Price: $11

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