Joey, Lincoln Center Theater’s War Horse has met his match at the Ice Factory Festival production of MISS LILLY GETS BONED with Harold – an amazing African elephant who has been extremely bad (having killed someone). Harold is operated by three actors (Brian Belcinski, Adam Blodgett and Aaron McDaniel) to great effect. It is a master creation of puppet designer and choreographer James Ortiz.
That the play he is featured in, Miss Lilly Gets Boned, by Bekah Brunstetter is equally impressive makes for a unique theatrical experience at the New Ohio Theatre that is fresh voiced, theatrical, extremely satisfying and welcome amid the sea of silly musicals abounding on the fringe festival scene this season.
Sexually repressed Sunday school teacher, Miss Lilly (a remarkable Jessica Dickey who I had seen and admired in THE AMISH PROJECT), remains a virgin at age 31 – keeping herself for a man that she hopes God will send her – frequently requesting such a person in her nightly prayers that are both endearing and funny. For the moment, guilt ridden masturbation is the answer.
One of her students is ten year old Jordan, believably played by David Rosenblatt looking sixteen. When last I saw and admired him, he was a dog/person in BE THE DOG. He does an excellent job here, unsuccessfully trying to keep his repressed anger in check regarding the death of his mother by an African elephant – Harold – who is being interviewed by Dr. Vandalla (Sanam Erfani, having the demeanor of a young Audrey Hepburn). She is speaking with him, trying to understand why he became so violent while attempting to save his life.
When Jordan’s dad Richard (a charming and manly Chris Thorn) arrives to pick his son up, Lilly is immediately uncomfortably infatuated and head over heels crazy for the cad that soon emerges. But not before she gets boned in a beautifully written and staged seduction in her bedroom.
Her sister Lara (a brazen Liz Wisan) is far more sexually active having gotten HPV, a STD. She is momentarily “not being a slut” and sublimates by exercising/spinning on her stationary bicycle to burn off her frustration.
Director David F. Chapman keeps everything moving beautifully along between the past and the present with a wonderfully understated sound design by Jill BC Du Boff.
How this all plays out is unexpectedly shocking, surprisingly moving and bittersweet.
Be careful what you pray for. www.newohiotheatre.org
A STUDIO 42 and Ice Factory 2012 Production PHOTOS: Elizabeth Olson
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