Like most all of my fellow humans (presuming I am, in fact, human), once and a while my mind wanders to the topic of what awaits us after death. Perhaps we’ve got some sort of bliss-filled heaven or a reincarnation as an adorable red panda to which to look forward. Or maybe just compost.
Whatever the case may be, hopefully we won’t all find ourselves in a situation like Guy in FringeNEXT’s Thou Shall Rot in Hell, who, as the title suggests, faces a most unfortunate posthumous destination.
Upon realizing that he is dead, Guy wonders, like any sensible person in such a situation would, where in fact he is. His hellish fears are promptly confirmed by a sweetly ominous asshole of a voice which berates Guy with insults, but devilishly allows him the hope that there is still the small chance “God could review his file” and he could still get into heaven.
Thus, Guy is lead to ponder why he’s in hell and to launch on a series of confessions about his life to the audience, hoping on the off chance that he could make it to heaven. Over the course of the forty-five minute long show, Guy muses about the life he’s led and ends up arriving at ten big confessions to make, spanning a range of topics from his parents and grandparents to his sexuality, Catholic grade school, and “everything else.”
Thou Shall Rot features the hilarious Zak Kelley both as its writer and solo performer. Making numerous comedic and insightful insights into Guy’s life, Kelley’s vast creativity and humor are clearly evident in this well written piece. At times, the primary hellish circumstance and its significance are lost as Guy wanders through his assortment of confessions, but the stories are all quite fun, so we don’t really mind.
Funny writing requires a funny performer, and Kelley is certainly able to fill that requirement. Perhaps he could do well to relax the character a bit and allow the naturalness of his writing to fully blossom in presentation, but his slightly over-the-top performance is still a strong one, full of sassy facial expressions, familial impressions, and witty remarks.
Diverging from its chthonic title and setting, if the entertainment provided by Thou Shall Rot in Hell were being judged, the the ethereal scale would certainly be tipped towards the heavenly side.
By: Richard Lowenburg