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A CurtainUp Los Angeles Review
Jawbone of an Ass

Somewhere along the way we have forgotten that we are all human, therefore fallible and absolutely ridiculous. Because twisting religion or politics for one's personal agenda or financial gain will not endear you to St. Peter and help you get through the pearly gates where 31 virgins and a choir of angels will be waiting for you. — Playwright Nan Schmid
Jawone of an Add
Left to Right, Eliza Coyle, Michael McColl and Nan Schmid.
(Photo: Erin Clendenin)
Talk about your fundamentalism gone funny! In Jawbone of an Ass actress/playwright Nan Schmid sets her sights on the mess that organized religions make of things and the lengths to which devout flock members will go to clean things up. Directed by Jim Anzide for Circle X Theatre, Schmid's play is a gleefully wicked send-up.

Through Paige Marie Hollister, a somewhat righteous Midwestern matron faced with the disappearance of her sex-addicted husband, Schmid (who also plays the role) has created a heroine of near endless comic possibilities. Paige Marie's best friend Cora Ann Wormley and Dr. Peter Admore, the visiting spiritual psychologist dispatched to deal with the town's crisis, aren't exactly shrinking violets themselves.

Jawbone plays out like a mystery — the kind of cheesy what really happened caper that might unfold on one of Paige Marie's beloved soaps. People are not who they initially present: Shady motives come to life, and everyone seems to be searching for something in the depths of Paige Marie's house. The house figures to be immaculate seeing how the start of the week is always "Mop Monday" as Paige Marie cheerily informs us. Nice job on the divided set by designer Steve Johnson (the playwright's husband). I hadn't realized you could still find wallpaper depicting pieces of fruit.

Mop Monday has barely broken when Paige Marie gets a visit from Cora Ann (Eliza Coyle, like Schmid a former Second City comedian). Cora Ann may profess friendship, but in carting Paige Marie off to come see Dr. Admore, the aptly named Wormley's motives are anything but benevolent. Admore (Michael McColl), who we first see in full revivalist mode, isn't just here to shill his books. He takes a strong interest in Paige Marie, her missing husband and her seeming lack of faith and determines that the upcoming Pillsbury Bake-Off competition might be just the sort of diversion to get her mind straight.

Of course, Ardmore's interest proves perhaps a bit too intense, and his penchant for practicing dance steps and donning women's clothing is a bit interesting. Anzide and his three actors play this out with a giddy mixture of straight and camp. We get faux horror and monster movie-inspired spoofs, plenty of cheeky sound effects (gotta have that goat!) and a very funny chorus of recorded voices during Admore's revival. All three performers aren't afraid to supply gusto to these frequently over-the-top shenanigans.

Lines were fluffed and overlapped with a bit too much regularity opening night, likely the product of premiere jitters. Schmid also made a post curtain announcement that the performance was dedicated to her father-in-law who had passed away the previous day. It's good to see that the playwright/star could shelve her grief for a couple of hours in the service of high comic energy. Here's hoping she brings Paige Marie back for further adventures once Jawbone has been put to bed.

Jawbone of an Ass
By Nan Schmid
Directed by Jim Anzide
Stage Manager: Cate Cundiff

Cast: Nan Schmid (Paige Marie Hollister), Eliza Coyle (Cora Ann Wormley, Michael McColl (Dr. Peter D. Admore)
Set Design: Steve Johnson
Costume Design: Christa Armendariz
Lighting Design: Dan Weingarten
Sound Design: Tim Labor
Puppet Construction/Choreography: Richard Maher
Running Time: 2 hours with one intermission
Lillian Theatre, 6322 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood. (800) 838-3006,
From May 1 to May 29
Thu-Sat. @ 8pm, Sun @ 2 pm.
Reviewed by Evan Henerson, based on May 1 performance.
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