A World
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Steven Smith & Thérèse Tinling

November 13 - December 20, 1997

Things are changing in Hell these days- Mr. B, one of Lucifer's trusted lieutenants, engineers a hostile takeover of Hell, using a complex corporate strategy involving a new Credit Plan, a dysfunctional couple and Santa Claus as Lucifer's personal torturer.  With the approval of Mickey, an angel representing the shareholders in Heaven, Mr. B ousts Lucifer and a new era in the history of Hell begins.  Torture, dancing, love-hate relationships, office politics and mountains of cocaine round out the evening. Don't bring the kids.


Kitty - Thérèse Tinling
Dennis - Steven Smith
Mr. B - Gerald McClanahan
Lucifer - Jay Harik
Santa - John Sylvain
Mickey - Piper Henry
Demona - Quinn Sullivan
Carrie - Jenifer Hamel
Tortured Souls - Marty Yu, Michelle Philippe

Production Staff
Produced for Sacred Fools by Eric Perlmutter and Rik Keller
Written and Directed by Paul Plunkett
Associate Director - Rik Keller
Costume Design by Perry Ash
Lighting Design by Lauren Hollingsworth
Sound Design by Paul Plunkett
Set Design by Scenic Wizards
Props by Andrew Friedman
Production Stage Manager - Manuel Garcia

John Sylvain



Any production that opens with a disemboweling must be applauded not only for clarity of artistic vision but for technical sophistication. Paul Plunkett's self-directed script envisions a hostile takeover in Hell, a place with a depressingly recognizable corporate structure. Lucifer (Jay Harik) appears to be losing his managerial edge when one of his demons, Mr. B (the deliciously silky Gerald McClanahan), presents a way to downsize and streamline the torment distribution: Why not have everyone torture each other, thus eliminating the middle-demon? Of course, there's the usual caviling by the supervisory level of unskilled demon labor (Quinn Sullivan and Jenifer Hamel encapsulate pretty much everything wrong with organized labor in their mildly engaged characters) and the stockholders' interests need to be seen to by representative Mickey (Piper Henry, in a chillingly perky power-suit turn). But still, the plans seems workable. The jokes are numerous, and some of the best ones occur during the scene changes as the condemned souls sream backstage (Bang! "Not my BMW!"). Visual jokes abound as well, most of them during the Hell's Kitchen scenes in which Tortured Souls #1 and #2 (Martin Yu and Michelle Philippe as pulchritudinous waitstaff) glide by in little red aprons proffering one body part after another. "Scenic wizards" David Holcomb and Brad Hennigan have created the definitive Office Depot Abattoir, while Andrew Friedman skillfully manages about a jillion props. Jeffrey Smith and Theres Tinling as the duo condemned to remain in vituperative embrace forever are one not-so-Grand Guignol moment after another, and should probably not be experienced by couples going through a rocky period. And I haven't even gotten to the part yet where Santa (John Sylvain, in an endearingly huggy-bear performance) administers electric tit-clamps to Satan. Oh well, you'll just have to check it out yourself. See you in Hell.

-Wenzel Jones
©1997 Backstage West


Writer/director Paul Plunkett envisons hell as just another corporate bureaucracy -- substitute angels for executives and demons for low level workers. Lucifer wears a pin-striped suits and smokes a cigar. Mr. B, that very suave corporate muck-a-muck, schemes for the boss' job and, by God (pardon the expression), almost pulls it off.

Catching Hell is not for the faint of heart: guts are pulled from bellies and eyes are gouged out and flung against the wall of the stark, dreary-looking offices of the standing set (created by a non-credited set designer). The playbill notes "There are 10 minute intermissions between each of the 493.251 acts. Welcome to Hell" and that is about the level of humor Catching Hell offers. Lauren Hollingsworth's lighting design punctautes the action, assisted by a neatly oriented electronic sign above the proscenium. We are surprised to find Santa Claus in the inferno, but Plunkett has a good explanation for sending him there, and certainly John Sylvain, who has a great "Ho, ho, ho!" is a warmly welcome addition to the evening. What Catching Hell lacks is much of a dramatic impetus. With people and archfiends this unrepentant -- even the beautiful Mickey, the haughty liaison from heaven, has the oily personality of a Hollywood gossip with a dozen scoops -- who really cares what happens to them? Also, the episodic construction of Catching Hell gives the evening a start/stop rhythm that bogs down tha action. Still, Plunkett has created some sporadically nasty characters that haters of bureaucracy and lovers of Grand Guignol may find amusing. In addition to Sylvain's fine performance, Jeffrey Steven Smith does some lively dancing in the role of Dennis; Gerald McClanahan is the weasel you love to hate as Mr. B; Jay Harik makes a swell Lucifer; and lovely Piper Henry as Mickey adopts a pesonality just this side of chalk scraping a blackboard. Less effective, though equally committed to flamboyant roles, are Therese Tinling as Kitty, who demands to be victimized; Quinn Sullivan as Mona who speaks the immortal lines, "Yeah, hell sucks now;" and Martin Yu and Michelle Philippe as Tortured Soul #1 and #2, respetcively; and Jenifer Hamel as the rabble-rousing Carrie

-Bruce Field
©1997 DramaLogue

Awards Page


award_trophy2.gif (893 bytes) PERFORMANCE - Gerald McClanahan
award_trophy2.gif (893 bytes) PERFORMANCE - Piper Henry