Moonshine, Madness, and Murder

DESCRIPTION: In Quacker Holler, Tennessee, the Lake Wobegon of the south, erotica-writing nun Sister Candance is murdered. Emily must use her investigative skills, fainting goats, and mental illness to solve the crime.

I’ve seen quite a lot of Christy’s work in the past – she’s a regular at the Story Slams and the Word Ninjas open mic, both of which I frequent – enough to have a very high opinion of her and her abilities; to assert that she’s a rising talent in the area, and totally arresting and compelling at her best. So it pains me a bit to assert that this particular show isn’t her at her best.

The thing is, all of her defining virtues are present here, in spades. There’s still the deft bits of clever writing, and – what really struck on watching this show – her seemingly bottomless compassion; none of her characters exist simply as the object of ridicule, and the way she populates her worlds can achieve an almost Shakespearean dimension, where all of her characters, even the ones we only encounter tangentially, seem to be living their own story.

The show begins with the assertion that what we’re hearing is excerpted from a novel. I suspect that this is where the central problem lies: we’re rapidly overwhelmed by the sheer number of characters and storylines and dangling plot threads – and about halfway through the show I realized I was totally lost, no longer able to follow the who was doing the what to the which now?

I walked away from the show thinking, hey, this is a novel I’d love to read. I’d love to hear her rendition of it as an audiobook, on a series of CDs I could pop in for one of my long road trips. But it’s not really effectively functional as an hour-long Festival show. It’s been too heavily gutted, and what’s left is still too complex. There is clearly skill here, and insight, and great virtue: the problem, I think, is primarily a mismatch between story and form.

Questions? Comments? Enraged invective? Check out my answers to occasionally asked questions in Notes on Notes, or the contact info linked from that page!

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