Birth of a $cientologist | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Birth of a $cientologist

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Birth of a $cientologist, at Organic Theater Company Greenhouse, South Hall. Dane Hanson's weakly written and performed one-man show lacks the satirical power to ruffle anyone's feathers. Perhaps Hanson might have succeeded if he'd played just one or at most two roles, but instead he's writer, director, producer, and performer. An outside eye might have helped sharpen his material and focus his energy.

The script is a mishmash of monologues full of one-liners, most of them delivered by the character Jasper Twinkle, an angry, motherless boy whose gambling father gets bumped off. His story is riddled with inconsistencies: at one point Jasper is left on his own because a news reporter announces that the anonymous town's one orphanage burned down. In a later scene, Jasper's living only blocks from Wrigley Field. Likewise no through line drives the plot, no time sequence is established: Jasper goes from scene to scene often unaffected by what's already happened.

Hanson is strongest as a performer, energetic and enthusiastic. But sometimes he breaks character and laughs, losing his concentration. And the voice he's chosen for Jasper is difficult to understand, akin to an adolescent Elmer Fudd. Hanson's choices as director are confusing. Though he brings audience members onstage in several scenes he doesn't react to them, playing somewhere between audience participation and maintaining the fourth wall. Every scene seems to take place in the living room set even when it clearly

shouldn't. Hanson is occasionally engaging and original. But for God's sake, if you're going to satirize religion you need to have something to say.

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