Sincerity Forever

A black, female Jesus H. Christ (Amber Jaunai) taunts two white supremicist teens (Nate DeCook and Vince Ryne) in Sincerity Forever. Original photo by Allison Stock.
Nearly 30 years ago, Flea co-founder Mac Wellman won an Obie for writing this play. Can the current generation of resident Flea actors do it justice?

By Andrew Andrews

Mac Wellman might best be described as the avant-garde dancer of playwrights. Treating words and phrases as movements that can be disassembled and reassembled in unlimited ways, Wellman uses stereotypes and clichés in nontraditional combinations, to create works that are experimental yet engaging, as totally absurd as they are completely relatable.

Sincerity Forever explores the lives of five teenagers and two “furballs” in the fictional southern town of Hillsbottom. Pairings of the teens repeatedly ponder their general naiveté while drinking fast food sodas behind the neighborhood Super*Center, always concluding that the most important thing in life is not what you know, but that you are sincere about it.

There’s something toxic in the water at Hillsbottom, and the teens are usually decked out in robes and hoods as if on their way to a Klan convocation, complaining about how “John Q. Fed-up” they are and what “doesn’t mean moose dick.” The mischievous furballs share a similar dialogue, criticizing the population while acknowledging that they haven’t taken any meaningful action against it. Then Jesus H. Christ appears in the form of a woman of color, carrying a heavy bag (in the 1970’s sense of the word) and challenges the teens to check themselves.

Truth be told, I haven’t always been impressed by The Flea’s resident performance troupe, The Bats. But for this production as well as the concurrent Bad Penny, the casting and direction seems to have been stepped-up a notch or two, and every actor had me fully believing they were the character they portrayed.

As is typically the case in The Siggy, the set relies more on props than scenery to convey the location, and as usual, I wish there was some way to make the difficult space—sort of a black-box/proscenium hybrid—more convincing. But the wooden pallets and stacked plastic bins are used as effectively as possible, and the lighting and sound contribute greatly to the overall effect, especially during the segues.

As the story (so to speak) progresses, Wellman remixes and varies the dialog into an exquisite déjà vu experience. It’s as engaging as Beethoven’s Fifth, or a glitch in the Matrix that repeatedly distracts you with the same hot red dress worn by a different person every time.

While my biggest complaint is the moment where Wellman employs his annoying shtick of a shouting competition, it’s fortunately over with soon enough. Then we reach the climactic moment we’ve been waiting for: Christ’s second coming, with a condemning monologue against American Christianity, delivered by Amber Jaunai with such power and sincerity that you’ll swear you feel the earth trembling.

And at last, it’s time to cry out “jdark!” and be gone.

4

Andrew Andrews attended Sincerity Forever at The Flea Theater Siggy Theater in New York on Thursday, August 29, 2019 @ 9:00pm to write this review.

Next Up:

Bad Penny

Is Mac Wellman’s 1990 Obie winner a walk in the park, or a perfect catastrophe?

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