Dirty Bible Stories | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Dirty Bible Stories 

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Dirty Bible Stories, WNEP Theater. The "dirty" part misleads a bit: this often delightful improv-originated retelling of supposedly shocking tales from the good book includes such unblue material as the raising of Lazarus--the first zombie--and omits the salacious Susanna and the elders, David and Jonathan, the woman taken in adultery, and Jezebel, Delilah, and Salome.

Despite some flat endings and a confused frame, the show works through sheer deflation as its writers and improvisers prove how close dirtiness is to godliness. In Seth Fisher's loopy contemporary treatment, Lot--a family man who made the mistake of dwelling in the iniquitous Twin Cities--escapes the wrath of two testy angels only to be drugged and raped by his daughters. (Even playfully retold, this is beyond cable TV.) Perfectly cloning VH1, Jenny Seidelman's "Behind the Apostle" expose of Paul comes complete with impressive video graphics and a hilarious turn by Peter De Giglio as the inevitable rock drummer who got dumped.

Dave Stinton's "The Fig Tree" gives Chris Zumwait the chance to play a Jesus sick of being marketed for miracles. Seidelman's "Deborah"--wonderfully done in clipped film noir style--pays homage to a wily hard-boiled prophetess (Amanda Cohen) who seemingly defeats the Canaanites with wisecracks. The best is last: Stinton's minimusical "Josiah," which peppers the usual lesson of fidelity to Yahweh with melodically enthralling production numbers.

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