Hark, the unheralded angels sing again—this time in a "holiday" production whose purpose is to show the most ignorant, psychotic side of fundamentalist Christianity. While we've always been keen on throwing those creeps to the lions, Rude Guerrilla Theater Co.'s production of Tim Blake Nelson's Eye of God offers no fresh meat to chew, instead tossing up a disappointing bore fest of rehashed fanaticism.
You may have caught the plot line on a daytime talk-show shocker back in 1997—which is when the play was written and when it was probably more timely and, well, shocking: Ainsley (Jami McCoy), a podunk Okie with a glass eye, marries pen-pal convict Jack (Darrin James) within days of his release from prison without even knowing why he was in the clink (he beat a pregnant woman half to death, killing her baby). Jack is born again, which means he's a holier-than-thou roller, and his control freak/murdering nature finds a perfect fit with his literal interpretation of the Bible.
Can you guess what happens next? Yes—we all could. Jack tightens his grip; Ainsley pulls away; and when she aborts their baby because she's going to leave him, he gouges out her eyes and slits her belly open from her vagina to her sternum. Gasp in horror; watch a commercial for erectile dysfunction.
The moral of the story—stop guessing, we want to tell you!—is that marrying pen-pal convicts isn't a great idea and that kooks who interpret the Bible verbatim often use God to justify whatever violence can be done in His name. No kidding. (We haven't lived in Oklahoma, where the playwright is from, so perhaps this lesson has yet to be learned in them there parts.) There's also a parallel about the story of Abraham, whom God almost let kill his son Isaac to show his allegiance to the deity, which, in conjunction with Jack's perspective, only reaffirms that the God of the Bible is one fucked-up dude.
The most disappointing thing about this production is that Rude Guerrilla missed a prime opportunity to give us a new spin on fundamentalist wigginess and violence—and we have plenty of examples these days with the influx of religious zealots into law and politics, not to mention the holy war being waged by our very own born-again president. We want to see the new face of crazy Christianity, please, which is always a perfect compliment to cutting-edge liberal theater—and a spiked glass of eggnog. Yum!
EYE OF GOD AT THE RUDE GUERRILLA THEATER CO., 200 N. BROADWAY, SANTA ANA, (714) 547-4688. FRI.-SAT., 8 P.M.; SUN., 2:30 P.M.; SPECIAL PERFORMANCE THURS., DEC. 16, 8 P.M. THROUGH DEC. 18. $12-$15.