We talk pretty one day
The Book of Liz
Sacramento, CA 95814
The Sedaris siblings are known for their sassy and sardonic take on life. National Public Radio listeners are familiar with satirist David Sedaris’ personal essays and books (Me Talk Pretty One Day) that put the “fun” in dysfunctional. And Amy, his sister, is better known by TV’s Comedy Central crowd for her funny send-up show Strangers with Candy. They are an odd yet endearing pair with rather skewed senses of humor.
So when these two siblings team up to write a play, you’d expect a quirky tale, heavily seasoned with sarcasm. You do get a bit of that with The Book of Liz, now at B Street Theatre, but what’s surprising is this hilarious social satire is also sweet and thoughtful. But not to disappoint: There are enough naughty bits laced with shades of blasphemy about religion and 12-step programs to satisfy faithful Sedaris fans.
The play begins starkly with Reverend Tollhouse (Thomas Redding), minister of a religious order of the Squeamish (a take on the Amish), explaining the simple, yet convoluted rules of religious engagement. We then meet Sister Elizabeth Donderstock (Stephanie McVay), a plain-dressed woman known for her cheese balls, which sustain Clusterhaven—the Squeamish’s cloistered community. When Reverend Tollhouse disses her by handing her cheese ball-making duties to the new wunderkind Brother Nathaniel Bright (John P. Lamb), Liz gets peeved and sets off to check out the outside world.
There, this innocent fish out of water encounters a new world of peanut mascots, Slavic immigrants, gay diva waiters and 12-steppers.
In her B Street directing debut, company regular Elisabeth Nunziato deftly juggles nuances that nurture the sharp humor and silliness while providing a sentimental undertone that keeps meanness and mockery at bay.
The cast includes McVay’s sweet yet savvy portrayal of Sister Donderstock, and Redding’s dual depictions of the clueless Reverend and Plymouth Crock’s charming drama-queen manager. B Street’s talented regulars Lamb and Jamie Jones give us a full range of kooky characters, with a special nod to Jones’ hilarious uptight bonnet-wearing Sister Constance Butterworth.