8/15/2023 THE PROS & CONS OF KILLING YOUR CULT LEADER Weird Sisters Theatre Project
All hail our glorious founder and peace and prosperity be unto him as he brings such bliss unto us!
Let’s get one thing clear right off the bat – a “cult” is a socially convenient term for referring to any belief system not like our own. The wider the divergence, the clearer the “cult” status.
Which means we are NOT a cult!
We are merely a collective group of theatre fans who believe writing about plays is the true path to enlightenment and happiness, and those who disagree and take actions counter to our glorious purpose will be shunned, disparaged, and “put down” until they atone for their deeds and comments and thoughts!
That being said, the collective(s) on display at the Weird Sisters Theatre Project are, in every sense of the word, a cult. First there’re the Weird Sisters themselves. Started as a coven of witches based on the trio of like-minded sinners from Shakespeare’s Scottish Play, they have chosen to worship the female of the species, both born as such, and chosen as such, and to stage theatrical endeavors celebrating the female experience and ethos. With such guilty pleasures on their resume as Anton in Show Business, Emilie: La Marquise du Chatelet Defends Her Life Tonight, Hot Pink (or) Ready to Blow, and Five Lesbians Eating a Quiche, they have been blissfully absent (dare I say underground?) since 2018’s Enchanted April.
Now they have chosen to rise Phoenix-Like from the ashes of their own misguided efforts, this time with Atlanta Playwright Becca Twiggs’ The Pros and Cons of Killing Your Cult Leader, a meta-experience in which a group of chattering females debate whether to allow their own glorious leader and founder to perish from poisoning, or to supply him with an antidote before it’s too late. That is indeed a potent question that may require meditation and punishments to resolve!
Along the way, the women “flashback” to fill in the layers of back story required to truly enhance any theatrical endeavor, showing us (without a doubt) that they were ALL lost souls on a path to oblivion, until their own glorious leader (and his properly submissive spouse) brought them “into the fold,” providing them with food, shelter, security, affection, and the first true “family” any of them had ever experienced. It is made clear that The One True Way Intentional Living Community is the best thing to ever happen to them, and their carping to the contrary is only so much whining and kvetching and disgratitude.
Did I mention this community has existed for over 25 years and is therefore a tried-by-time true Belief System? Children have been born into it and know no other life.
Just to introduce you, Jennifer is first assistant to the Founder’s wife, Catherine. Michelle and Sarah have turned their backs on properly-sanctioned and true-to-the-Founder’s-creed marriage, choosing instead to take vows of celibacy. Together. And to share their one tiny room. Nicole is the firebrand, a resident since her early childhood, so she knows no other life (but aspires to know ANY other life). And Anne is the novice, newly welcomed into the “Women’s Chamber,” prone to hearing a lecture and taking the wrong lesson. Overheard gossip leads Anne to seek the Founder’s Atonement, which means dosing him with a poison that will kill him in sixty minutes.
So there is only an hour for these indecisive souls to decide whether to administer the hastily cobbled together (and untested) antidote, or to just let the Founder founder.
BTW, a wife Catherine worried about being replaced by a younger wife Anne, requiring the Founder to change the Rules he himself controls? This reminds me of someone else, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. And why does the Tudor décor on display seem so, well, correct? But I digress …
I know I risk the wrath of our own leader when I say it, but this look into someone else’s community was funny, moving and rang not a few disturbing chords of recognition. Sure, these characters totally reject … well partially reject … well have a few doubts about their leader’s lessons and methods. Sure, they exemplify everything we self-respecting Paterfamiliasses fear about women and exemplify the very reasons we must keep them subdued, submissive, and preferably subterraneal. To paraphrase my father when my siblings and I were being especially raucous and intrusive, “Women, like children, should be herded and not seen”.
But I’ll be hornswoggled if they aren’t entertaining. This is a funny and (regretfully) well-written script and the situation, though absurd on the face of it nevertheless reaches some deeper emotional responses, bringing out my own laughter and applause, albeit with some paranoid side glances to ensure no one saw me do it. Especially no women, of which there were far too many unaccompanied by a responsible spouse or brother.
These are (mostly) actors I’ve seen before, even worked with before, and I have nothing but respect for their choices and their ability to wring out of me non-Leader-sanctioned appreciation and (dare I say it?) even a little pleasure. Kelly Criss (Catherine), Jaclyn Hoffman Faircloth (Jennifer), Parris Sarter (Michelle), Cate Lightburn (Sarah), Brittani Minnieweather (Nicole), and Alejandra Ruiz (Anne) ensemble-ize beautifully and each sculpt elegant distinct characters that elevate this screed into a pleasant excursion into the not-as-scattered-as-we-think minds of the “other,” other here defined as “other” community AND “other” societally-defined gender. Okay, they were occasionally shrill and difficult to understand, given the echoey acoustics that I never noticed before in this venue, but not often enough to make me cross my arms and hrrmmmphhh my judgmental way through the stuff I could hear, if not understand.
Oh, before I forget, Tavern mainstay Adam King has the thankless task of playing the Founder, as well as ALL the men in the ladies’ flashbacks. It was a man’s job to play the manly roles, and Mr. King was on impressive manly display throughout.
I must also insist director Lilliangina Quiñones accept a modicum of atonement training for her unrestrainable vision and talent in bringing this hen-fest to life, supplying a bucketload of humor (wry and dry though it may be) and keeping her followers “on message.”
To be blunt, The Pros and Cons of Killing Your Cult Leader is forcing me to question the lessons and tactics of my own leader, founder, and community. I suppose it’s a good thing said founder and leader moved to Las Vegas and we remain a community of one.
Now, once I can get my Girl-Friday caffeinated, she can proofread this and post it. It may be a while ….
-- Brad Rudy (BKRudy@aol.com #WeirdSisters #Pros&ConsOfKillingYourCultLeader)