Thou Shall Rot in Hell
You know that horrible, doomed feeling when you suddenly realize you’re dead? Not only that, but you’ve ended up in Hell? Me neither. Zak Kelley does, as he reveals in his play Thou Shall Rot in Hell at the 2013 Cincinnati Fringe Next.
Thou Shall Rot in Hell is a one-man original play written by and starring Zak Kelley. In Thou Shall Rot in Hell, Kelley reflects on the sins he has committed against others and himself as he struggles to find what exactly landed him in Hell and how he can redeem himself in order to get to Heaven. Kelley’s bold, mocking storytelling, combined with uncomplicated and effective technical elements, supported the show’s sarcastic humor. Representing the full spectrum of teen angst, often a bit over the top, the majority of his sins contained sentiments with which we can all identify.
Zak Kelley played himself, looking back on his life and the many people who shaped it, trying to figure out where he went wrong and exactly what choice landed him in everlasting fire. Kelley’s flippancy, combined with exaggerated impressions and interpretations of various members of his family, drove the show’s dry and dark comicality. His cutting wit and outlandish characterizations kept audiences engaged on the single actor onstage.
The lighting consisted of distinct blackouts and spotlights, corresponding with Kelley’s multiple “confessions.” Though the lighting design was simple, it effectively conveyed the quiet, lonely, and “hellish” atmosphere of the show.
Though at times the show’s content seemed a bit unnecessarily profane, considering its teenage cast and crew, Kelley’s Thou Shall Rot in Hell produced a young man’s view of life and “living in sin” that both entertained and touched the audience as Kelley revealed that despite his faults, “I have found who I was and who I want to be!”
By: Lindsey Franxman