The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told 

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The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told, Bailiwick Repertory. Playwright Paul Rudnick, the king of gay quips, is devastatingly funny in this 1999 play, now premiering in Chicago. But as in Jeffrey, Rudnick also attempts something more weighty, exploring the existence of God, the basis for moral behavior, and whether love endures. The first act reimagines Genesis: what if the first couples were Adam and Steve (David Divita and Stephen Radar) and Jane and Mabel (Jennifer Wilson and Kelli Strickland)? Rudnick not only plays with stereotypes--when Steve realizes he's naked, his first words are "I need to go to the gym"--but nails the comedy in the alternately suspicious and loving interplay between lesbians and gay men. This delightful fantasia on Bible stories covers the expulsion from Eden, lascivious animals aboard the Ark, and a miraculous semivirgin pregnancy. Overseeing it all is the smug, godlike stage manager (Lori Meyers), who gives orders like "First sunset: Go."

The second act, set in contemporary New York, is more somber, addressing such topics as gay marriage, gay families, distrust between religions, and AIDS. Its seriousness is redeemed by poignant but funny monologues, especially Mabel on giving birth and a disabled lesbian rabbi (Halena Kays) on God's responsibility for tragedy. Ultimately Rudnick's simple medicine--let's joke about our differences and accept life's uncertainties--is offered with such good humor that it goes down with a smile.

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