J. A. Di Bello’s Review of Profits for Prophet

May 3, 2019

Side of the Road Theatre Company

Waterwheel Café

Milford, PA

     The distinguished restaurant/bar, the Waterwheel Café, is conveniently located in historic Milford, PA. If one were fortunate enough to enjoy its comforts this past Friday evening, an unusual and historic event was in full swing. In this fine eatery’s cozy bar, there’s a petite and intimate stage, where John Klemeyer’s new comedy Profits for Prophets was brought to life by the Side of the Road Theatre Company. Using historic allusion and hilarious detail, John Klemeyer’s drama sheds light on the various machinations, schemes employed by a dubious literary agent to compile and distribute a book. But mind, this book will become the world’s bestselling book!

Most legitimately consider religious literature to be serious business, and without doubt, it is. But John’s creative mind and acute ear know the frivolity that’s contained in the imagined convocation of the most righteous prophets to be found in Old Judea. Especially, as each plots and actually competes to be included in the proposed “Big Book,” one destined to become a literary masterpiece: The Bible.

The out-right incongruity of this unique narrative quickly assumes the mask of theatrical comedy. The humor of this first-told tale spills off the stage as infectious laughter fills a full house. Authors appear to be interviewed and tested for their authority and salability as functioning prophets. John Klemeyer knows his way around the bar and under the follow spot, too. And here, as the production’s author and director he has his receptive audience in an uproar. Profits for Prophets as sidesplitting entertainment is one way to phrase it. Uproarious another!

At curtain, a sparse stage greets the Waterwheel Café’s audience, as potential candidates are seated on a ramshackle bench, each waiting to be interviewed by Sid, the profit-minded literary agent. He is brought to the stage by a powerful and rightfully convincing Mark Von Oesen, and with a task of biblical proportions.  Sid most assuredly requires the assistance of a competent secretary. In that pivotal role is Evelyn Albino, as Tiffany, a respected and highly competent actress in this area’s regional theatres. She’s, the credible “gatekeeper” armed with what appears to be an intimidating Russian accent.

The authors of the books that will become the substance of the Bible are portrayed as a riotous collection of characters, ranging from Job, as in the Book of Job, to John Klemeyer, himself, as Habakkuk, the soft-spoken author of one of the Bible’s shortest books, The Book of Habakkuk. A testament that openly questions the wisdom of God and carries the most important message of the evening.

And while mentioning Job, the story of his life is found in, The Book of Job. He is brought cleverly to the stage by a frequently poker-faced Darren Fouse. Job has suffered immense and unimaginable loss. However, he has retained his spirit and hope for the future as demonstrated by his physical attraction to Ruth. Subsequently and skillfully Crystal Von Oeston gives life to an opportunistic Ruth, as found in the Book of Ruth.

There’s also Ezekiel, the noted Hebrew prophet to consider, he’s portrayed by Patrick McCarthy who seeks literary opportunities with Job and Habakkuk. But, to round out this cast of competent thespians, consider the performance of Al “Doc” Snyder as Irving. His interactions with Sid, the all-for-profit literary agent, remain a notch-above hilarious. Further and of great enjoyment is Patrick Turner, as a memorable Gideon, the marketing director. His antics and on-stage characteristics clearly represent the humor intended by John Klemeyer . This charmed group is a delight to watch on stage, as they transform their timing and verbal abilities in a riotous, knee-slappin’ comedy.

And yes, there is more, a highlight of this performance was the “Lighting Round,” during which the selected authors would provide suggestions for additions or inclusions, e.g., gimmicks like recipes, in the book that would increase the volume of anticipated sales. Suggestions were presented to God, who would provide a positive or negative response with vicious strikes of lightning and shattering claps of thunder.

Once all believe the tasks are completed and their Bible is ready, an itinerate carpenter, portrayed by Chris Perdomo, arrives on the scene with a fascinating story about a wedding feast at Cana.

Profits for Prophets will continue its uproarious run at the Water Wheel Café through May 10thand 11th at 8 PM. Reservations are suggested as last Saturday’s performance was reportedly sold out: 150 Water Street, 570-296-2383.This play is not to be missed. The production’s assistant director is Beth Kelley, who is the Side of the Road’s founder and stands tall at its helm. She has announced an ambitious and worthy theatrical performance schedule for the remainder of the season.

 

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