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HOW TO BE A VIRGIN (in 12 morally ambiguous steps):

It’s More Fringe!

HOW TO BE A VIRGIN (IN 12 MORALLY AMBIGUOUS STEPS)

At the outset of Carla Neuss’ smart and very witty play we are shown a graph that places the number of those who remain virgins after the age of twenty-five at two percent of the population. We’re told this is the same percentage as those who are vegetarians and those who believe the earth is flat.

This well-crafted piece relates the story of a young woman struggling against the world at-large to retain her maidenhood; and triumphing.

Author Carla NeussAuthor Carla NeussNow as a proud veteran of the glorious sexual revolution I can’t but regard this as a tragedy on the scale of Medea set loose on Sesame Street. But while I do view the main character’s life choice as regrettable, one must feel admiration for her adherence to a principle; for the likelihood of running across either principles or virginity nowadays ranks right up there with your chances of ever bumping into a member of the Bush administration in heaven.

But if there is a flaw in Neuss’ play it is found in her heroine’s triumph. It is not that the manly obstacles she must overcome in some half dozen relationships tend to show similarities that verge dangerously close to repetition, no Neuss’ clever dialogue all but sweeps this blemish under the carpet then nails the rug firmly to the floor. (Laughter serves many a playwright as the salvation for their sins.) No, the fault is found in her program notes, in which Neuss purports she wishes to explore the “grey areas” that exist “between secular and religious, sexual and chaste, left and right…”

Now as a secular, oversexed leftie I, too, have certain self-imposed restrictions on my behavior.

I strive to maintain certain dietary restrictions.

I do not eat pork, I do not eat anything that recognizes its own reflection, I do not eat anything that under different circumstances could eat me, I do not eat anything that is cute, nor do I eat anything that demonstrates a high level of intelligence. %

But behind my decidedly flippant presentation of these guidelines are a host of spiritual, psychological, moral and political motivations dictating them. And I’m just talking dietary constraints!

Neuss doesn’t provide us or her heroine (a heroine who appears to be an exceedingly sexual individual save for her curb on coitus) with a compelling travelogue. Instead of a narrative recounting a journey of discovery, we are given postcards sent from destinations included in a rather pedestrian tour packet. (If it’s Tuesday this must be the Ugandan missionary student.)

virgin1.jpg

There is a far more interesting story somewhere here, and perhaps Neuss will one day put it at the center of a play.

Perhaps.

Still, Neuss is a playwright of distinct talents and her piece is certainly entertaining, sweetly engaging and very, very funny as well.

Both Neuss and her effort have been superbly served by an excellent cast and director.

Katelyn Schiller as “The Virgin” effects an all but seamless union between the material and her performance of it.

Josh Bross as “Brian/the men” imparts each of the romantic impediments “The Virgin” encounters but never succumbs to, with their own unique dimensions without ever losing that indefinable universal bond which unites all guys on-the-make.

Director Payden Ackerman works the heavy demands of the piece within the challenging confines of the venue with masterly skills and never at the sacrifice of maintaining the core humanity so essential to the success of the piece.

The audience I was part of was wildly enthusiastic, showing their appreciation in a standing ovation at the show’s conclusion. And while I sribbon.jpgremained in my seat, I certainly did sit more erect.

This show deserved that.

Ernest stopped being a virgin at age 8 and not a day has gone by since he hasn’t offered up thanks to cousin Susie.

The call: SILVER.

Here’s a Trailer.

% Limiting me to cows, chicken, fruit, vegetables and conservative radio talk show hosts.

Fringe-2016.jpgThere’s still time to check out out all things Fringe HERE.

Click HERE for this reviewer’s good, better and best of all there is to see at this year’s Fringe Festival.

Written by

An award-winning L.A. playwright and rabble-rouser of note who has hoisted glasses with Orson Welles, been arrested on three continents and once beat up Charlie Manson. His first play, "Among the Vipers" was a semi-finalist in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition and was featured in the Carnegie-Mellon Showcase of New Plays. It was produced at the NPT Theater in Ashland, Oregon and Los Angeles’ celebrated Odyssey Ensemble Theatre. His following play, “The Little Boy Who Loved Monsters” was produced at The Hollywood Actors Theater, where he earned praise from the Los Angeles Times for his “…inordinately creative writing.” The play went on to numerous other productions including Berlin’s The Black Theatre under the direction of Rainer Fassbinder who wrote in his program notes of Kearney, “He is a skilled playwright, but more importantly he is a dangerous one.” Ernest Kearney has worked as literary manager or as dramaturge for among others The Hudson Theater Guild, Nova Diem and the Odyssey Ensemble Theatre, where he still serves on the play selection committee. He has been the recipient of two Dramalogue Awards and a finalist or semi-finalist, three times, in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition. His work has been performed by Michael Dunn, Sandra Tsing Loh, Jack Colvin and Billy Bob Thornton, and to date, either as playwright or director, he has upwards of a hundred and thirty productions under his belt, including a few at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater as puppeteer. After a wild and misspent youth, which lasted well into middle age, Kearney has settled down and is focusing on his writing, as well as living happily ever after with his lovely wife Marlene. Ernest’s stage reviews and social essays can be found at TheTVolution.com and workingauthor.com. Follow him on Facebook.

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