Lives of the Saints
The sultry goddess of a washing machine comes to life and steals a repairman’s heart. Slaves, while working on the Tower of Babel, alter monotheism to get out of work. Rob and Laura Petrie turn into TV zombies.
There’s murder, torture by walnuts and funeral Jell-O. To guide the audience through this quirky journey is Fifi (Steve Lombardo), a lanky Indiana gym teacher dressed in a skimpy black maid frock with fishnet stockings, a tiara and Converse sneakers.
Contemporary society, as depicted in Reno Little Theater’s Lives of the Saints, is as absurd as anything concocted by Rod Serling or Al Camus. And that turns out to be a joyful thing—something to celebrate by munching on some of those cheesy things that God likes.
Lives of the Saints, by comic playwright David Ives, is a series of seven one-act plays that, at first glance, might seem as random as a Best of Saturday Night Live collection. The Reno Little Theater production kicks off with Bebe W.W. Doppelganger’s visit to Dr. William W. William’s office. Only the audience sees not just one woman and one doctor, but a mirror set of each. While Bebe 1 (Chelsea Hackett) tells Bill 1 (Anthony Henderson) of the nagging sense that she’s not alone, that she’s done everything before—"I keep reiterating"—the second pair of actors mimics actions and lip syncs dialogue. Then the whole scene repeats, with Bebe 2 (Zarah Borjah) telling Bill 2 (Zachary Bortot) about her déjà vu issues.
Ives is a master of silliness. No pun or double entendre is too low. You get plenty of “Send me the bill, Bill,” and when the shrink asks the women to “expand” on their troubles, both puff out their chests with impeccable comedic timing.
In another skit, “Babels in Arms,” two toga-wearing guys, Cannapflit (Ted Wynn) and Gorph (Andrew Mowers) tote a giant stone, set it in place, check rudimentary plans and adjust the stone. This is accomplished using a “fucker"—the word both prehistoric men use for any object (in this case a crow bar) that doesn’t yet have a name. “Humanity is young and has not yet words for every fucker.”
You get the idea. Wynn’s over-the-top mannerisms work especially well here, as do a zillion zippy witticisms.
The show’s glue comes from reiterating themes like humankind’s relationship with technology ("Soap Opera") and media ("Captive Audience") and language ("Arabian Nights"). Cast members recur in various roles with the running gag provided by Fifi (Steve Lombardo)—who appears between acts, talking directly to the audience, and shows up as random characters within the skits themselves. No matter the character—Maypole repairman’s mom or psychiatry office secretary, Lombardo’s hilarious as the Chucks-wearing maid.
The group’s acting and the fine directing by Megan Conelly and Doug Mishler set a high standard for Reno Little Theater’s 71st season.
Of course, the play’s themes are deeper than your standard Comedy Central fare. Lives of the Saints asks some difficult and timely questions of our society, like why are we here? What do we really know about the nature of existence? And “what if TVs are living creatures that can hear and see us?”