by Larry Larson & Levi Lee - Directed by Wizard - Reviewed by Wayne Erreca
This jubilantly chaotic, gleefully nonsensical, and zealously paranoiac production has to have the longest title within the entire theatre world. Some Things You Need To Know Before The World Ends (A Final Evening With The Illuminati) premiered at the Nexus Theatre in 1981 in Atlanta, Georgia, authored by Larry Larson, and Levi Lee. A mere five years later, it came to life once again at the Humana Festival at the Actor’s Theatre in Louisville, Kentucky. Then they had the good fortune of being published in Dramatists Play Service and the rest is history.
Since the title requires far too much ink, I will refer to the play as simply Illuminati from here on out. Speaking of the Illuminati, which is considered as a notorious Secret Society established on May 1, 1776, also associated with Freemasons, and who are vehemently opposed to religions of all faiths, and denominations, they were outlawed by both monarchies and the Catholic Pope. Why would the Illuminati be against such noble and holy orders, you may ask? Well, within their early founded days, governments and religions were quick to stamp out any newly discovered progressive knowledge that would possibly undermine the foundations of religion. This contentiously set into place the confrontation that still exists to this very day. Does Same Sex Marriage ring a bell? The Illuminati is accused of masterminding dominance over the world, bringing its New World Order into place, which of course, wouldn’t have much room allowed for those of faith.
Larson and Lee, definitely tapped into a gold mine of controversy, but they successfully achieved by constructing a zany, wacky, and hilariously Vaudevillian escapade, touching the outer-rim of a very dark, contentious, and bombastic struggle over all mankind. If you’ve read the newspapers and watched the evening news on your favorite channel I’m sure you’re aware of the insanely religious ruckus being played out in the sand dunes of the Middle East. Religion against rationality and good sense continues this deadly waltz for world dominance.
This play has very few printed reviews and even fewer Youtube videos of prior productions, by my count only three or four, which is usually a flagging red sign of public disinterest. I have to hand it to Director Wizard for his clearly thought out vision and choreography, and without hardly any resources to draw from other than his talent in bringing a very entertaining comedy to the Studio Theatre @ the Depot stage. He also cast a wonderful foursome, Rick Korndorfer as Reverend Eddie, Mike Nunn as Brother Lawrence, Dan Mello as Death, Country Western Singer, Wally, Timothy, and Kate May as the Interviewer, Paul, and Country Western Singer, where each performed strongly and knitted together with an engaging chemistry helping to guide the audience through their many humorous routines.
Illuminati (here’s that abbreviation once again) takes play in the dilapidated church where all the fun takes place. Set Designer Jeff Kroeger and Properties Designers Karen Gardner and Nancy Albrecht did an excellent job in providing a very functional and visually inviting atmosphere. The cross, basketball hoop, and bedroom worked quite well! Reverend Eddie (Korndorfer) should consider wearing his blazingly fire-red cotton long johns leisurely in public if he likes, which is definitely a smart decision by Costume Designer Carly Anderson. She also had a keen eye for the construction workers, worn by May, and Mello. Cinder Conlon, with her Light & Tech Design, handsomely supported the players in all their scenes. Often unnoticed, but immensely in need, Producer Denni Don Hunting found all the right marbles were safely in the production bag.
Korndorfer (Reverend Eddie) the straight man and Nunn (Brother Lawrence) the clown worked amazingly and energetically, bringing to memory the many great Vaudevillian acts of the past. With smaller and fewer roles, Mello and May, bring them up to size, with their sensitivity, timing, and delightful chemistry. Illuminati could easily be a horrible train wreck, having audiences pinching their noses, and swearing they’ll never again waste two valuable hours in a day, but this particular rendition of, Larson and Lee’s, outrageous comedy is a great success!
Before I let you go, whatever religion you profess to be, or agnostic new recruit in the notorious ranks of the terrifying Illuminati (I promise this is the last reference) try being a little more open-minded, and considerate. It’s a big world, a world that is maturing, so allow the past to slide away a bit, and jointly look to the future, seeking together a common bond, and mutual peace.
Studio Theatre @ the Depot on April 10, 2015