SALT LAKE CITY — Westminster’s director, Michael Vought, takes on Peter Barne’s, Oliver Award Winning show, Red Noses. The play follows the antics of Father Flote (played beautifully by Jared Thomson), a Patch Addams Predecessor, as he bounds across 14th century France bringing laughter to the dying masses. Accompanied by his haphazard crew of “Floaties” Father Flote tries his best to ease the pain of those suffering from the bubonic plague, those oppressed by religious masochism or many who wander lost, with no faith at all.
Vought has pulled together a large, motley, cast for this production ranging from theater veterans to new arrivals to the stage. Costume and set designer, Nina Vought, pulled together a set of perfect simplicity and versatility to show off this carnival of performers. This strange mix of actors from all over Westminster’s Campus, and beyond, was well cast to fill the shoes of Father Flote’s crew of creatively witty misfits. From a blind juggler (who belches on cue) to a freewheeling nun, a pair of soft-at-heart mercenaries, dancing sisters (with only two legs between them) to a stuttering stand up, the Floties cover every pun in the book.
Between Master Bell’s un-intelligible jubilant jingling (everyone on stage could understand what she was trying to say, much like the Peanuts could all understand the warbling of the adults around them) and the 6’6” bearded drag queen, I honestly wondered what I had gotten myself into. But after looking through the loose blocking and the few stuttered lines (not just by Frapper) this young cast brought home an entertainingly touching performance.
The cast themselves put forward an exciting performance from a script that was built primarily of one liners and physical comedy. I was thoroughly entertained to spend most of my evening watching Annie Bring’s Sister Marguerite from the second I watched her pout over not being raped. She was a fantastic physical actress and turned out to be quite an emotional powerhouse when she needed to be. Her secondary storylines with the tall dark and handsome jerk-of-a-mercenary, Rochfort (Tyson Olcott), and Hailey Henderson’s mute Master Bells, were touching personal asides from the larger political and religious stories that were being touched on the primary plot line.
Rating/Audience: I’d put this performance into a PG-13 category given the subject matter and the style of humor. Not really a show for the WHOLE family, but has a great story to tell.
(For those who don’t quite get the “Red Noses” allusion, “Red ROSES” was a rhyme about the bubonic plague. Red Noses is a play about a bunch of clowns spreading laughter through the plague; just to be sure you got that! Cultural Literacy 101 ended.)
Red Noses plays through March 27th (Th/F/Sa) in the Jewett Center for the Performing Arts at Westminster College. Box Office: 801.832.2457 or click here.