Thursday, March 12, 2015

Quick-Hit Off-Broadway Theater Review: Lives of the Saints

Kelly Hutchinson and Liv Rooth. Photo: James Leynse
Lives of the Saints
By David Ives
Directed by John Rando
Primary Stages

What's It All About?
The world premiere collection of a collection of short plays by David Ives (All in the Timing, Venus in Fur). An ensemble cast of Arnie Burton, Carson Elrod, Kelly Hutchinson, Liv Rooth and Jeff Biehl (I saw Rick Holmes before Biehl stepped in) bring Ives' zany situations to life under the direction of John Rando.

The six plays combine gags and typical Ives suspension of reality to explore relationships, alter realities and what might have been. They aren't related, however, so an overall theme fails to emerge.

Some explore slices of life, while others take a wild leap, like "Soap Opera," in which a "Mapole" washing machine repairman (Carson) falls in love with his Neptune IT 40 model (played by Rooth), who jealousy keeps him from pursuing a relationship with a real woman (Hutchinson) who is interested in him."Enigma Variations" has a couple of folks suffering from severe cases of deja vu (with expert timing and nifty costuming and wig design by Anita Yavich and Tom Watson creating sets of dopplegangers) and "The Goodness of Your Heart" tests the boundaries of friendships and expectations. "Life Signs" is funny, as a mother reaches out from beyond the grave with zaniness that reminded me of Rando's work on Urinetown.

What Are The Highlights?
My favorite sketch was "It's All Good," following two old "church ladies" who have been called in to prepare a funeral luncheon. As Edna and Flo putter about in the basement making kiebasa, Jell-o and other church-food staples, they chat and reflect, in the way old friends do, and vow that whoever goes first will take care of the other's funeral lunch. The world becomes bigger than the confines of the basement with the help of nifty scenic and lighting design by Beowulf Boritt and Jason Lyons.

The ensemble is top-notch. Rooth is aways a treat.

What Are the Lowlights?
Well, you need to remember to through reality the window, or some of the bits might seem a bit too far fetched. And even after you unlatch realistic expectations, not all of the humor lands solidly.

More Information:
Sound design and original music by John Gromada;

Lives of the Saints is Primary Stage's seventh production of Ives' work. It runs through March 27 at The Duke, 229 West 42nd St., NYC. Performances are Tuesday through Thursday at 7 pm, Friday at 8 pm, Saturday at 2 and 8 pm and Sunday at 3 pm. There is an added 2 pm matinee on Wed. March 25. There is no performances Tuesday, March 17. Tickets are $70:;; 646-223-3010; box office. Groups: (10+) $45 each for all performances: (212) 840-9705, ext. 204.

Christians might also like to know:
--Sexual dialog and themes
-- God's name taken in vain
-- Language

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Gracewell Prodiuctions

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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists. Her play concept, "From Reel to Real: The Jennifer O'Neill Story" was presented as part of the League of professional Theatre Women's Julia's reading Room Series in New York. Shifting from reviewing to producing, Yarger owns Gracewell Productions, which produced the Table Reading Series at the Palace Theater in Waterbury, CT. She trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Intensive and other training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run. She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She wrote reviews of Broadway and Off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (, an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She was a contributing editor for She previously served as theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer, Connecticut theater editor for and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

She is a Co-Founder of the Connecticut Chapter of the League of Professional Theatre Women. She is a former vice president and voting member of The Drama Desk.

She is a freelance writer and playwright (member Dramatists Guild of America). She is a member if the The Outer Critics Circle (producer of the annual awards ceremony) and a member of The League of Professional Theatre Women, serving as Co-Founder of the Connecticut Chapter. Yarger was a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.


All material is copyright 2008- 2024 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact


Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women or people of a certain race are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide, or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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