Not Much to Dig in Undermain Theatre's Burying Our Father
If Burying Our Father, the biblical whatchamacallit at Undermain Theatre, is supposed to be comedy, it needs to be funnier. If it's supposed to be performance art, it needs more original moves. If it's supposed to be a slightly too-long, goofy Sunday school pageant performed by a likable older couple, it's just about perfect.
Fred Curchack and Laura Jorgensen, who are husband and wife, wrote and perform the show, a 75-minute retelling of the Old Testament story of Abraham and Isaac. Donning cheap beards, funny noses, masks and other bits and bobs, they play all the characters, including God (Jorgensen), who lisps and is seen only in shadow behind a backlit scrim.
The script is ragged, and even a week into the run it seemed under-rehearsed. As they verbally tap-dance through biblical history, Curchack and Jorgensen become awkward incarnations of George Burns and Gracie Allen, trying to earn cheap laughs by describing circumcision as "cutting off his wee-wee." Or, in one super-icky sketch, miming intercourse between nonagenarians Abraham and Sarah. (You don't want to see that "O-face.")
Sometimes they go all serious, engaging in some slow-mo dancing or a little plunking on a thumb piano. They even resort to that hoariest of low-budget gimmicks, lighting their faces with flashlights under their chins.
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But it's never clear what the point is. Are they clowns, making sport of holy scripture? Are they bards, sharing a biblical history lesson?
Curchack and Jorgensen are having a fine time, whatever it is they're doing. She has the rubbery mug of an old comedian like Martha Raye. He's good on the guitar, singing made-up folk tunes about Sodom and Gomorrah.
They spend much of their show with their mouths wide open and their heads thrown back, offering generous glimpses of excellent dental work. If you enjoy this sort of broadly acted japery, go for it. I find it about as much fun as a toothache.
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