The West Coast Premiere of Kate Fodor’s play, 100 Saints You Should Know, is being produced at the Elephant Theatre and is part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival.
Even though West Coast Premiere is one of my least favorite phrases, I was intrigued by the Saints in the title. Plays about saints are my second favorite kind of play (right after plays about sinners). Will there be a parade of 100 saints with brass instruments? Would St. Anthony get a monologue?
I continued to be optimistic about this play because I like seeing plays at the Elephant Theatre. They have comfortable seats. I also was able to slide into an awesome parking spot one block away.
The set of 100 Saints You Should Know is beautiful. Tree branches weave through wooden squares holding stacks of books. There are large white screens, and the furniture is efficiently shifted on and off by guys in black. There is a tranquility to the set as if the play is more a meditation than a character driven story.
100 Saints You Should Know is about Catholicism, the relationship between celibacy and the body, and a study of prayer. Matty is a young priest who has been suspended after nude photos of men were found in his study. He goes home to his mother, but one night, the cleaner at the rectory shows up with a book he left behind. The cleaner, Theresa, is a single mom with a sixteen year old daughter, Abby. While Theresa is asking the big God and prayer questions of the priest, Abby, left outside in the car, gets drunk with a neighborhood boy, and horrible Act One ending events occur.
On one hand 100 Saints is a typical Playwrights Horizons (it was produced by Playwrights Horizons in New York) linear well-made play in which the characters are not super extreme and the settings have a realistic feel to them.
However, I found parts of 100 Saints quite moving because Fodor is smart enough to not let her play get in the way of her quest for ideas. She gives her characters time to just exist reading Victoria’s Secret catalogs and playing Scrabble. These little moments take on a prayer-like quality and give the lives of the characters a simple sacredness. After all, this is America. We can all be saints here—even the sinners.
100 Saints You Should Know runs with Fringe Festival with performances on Fri, June 24th at 8pm, Saturday June 25th at 8pm, and Sunday June 26th at 7pm. Then the play’s run continues until July 16th with Fri and Sat performances at 8pm and Sunday performances at 7pm. All performances are at the Elephant Space at 6322 Santa Monica Blvd (at Lillian Way). You can get tickets from the Fringe website or the Elephant Theatre Company website (www.elephantthearecompany.com) or by calling 213-644-0556