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‘Mormon Boy’ at home at Onyx

To think of “Confessions of a Mormon Boy” as a tale about Mormonism is to shortchange its themes. Steven Fales’ one-man show is a very funny, poignant and surprising story of self-acceptance and the happiness in finding spiritual connections.

The author/actor relives his experiences as a child, steeped in church tradition. As he grows older, he tries to ignore what he thinks are inner demons by going on a two-year mission, marrying and having children. It’s a painful process before he admits to the church his “failure.” He’s excommunicated and leaves Utah for a new life in New York City. It’s not long before his new liberation winds up trapping him. This time, the demons are drug and sex addictions. The play’s dramatic question is how to find a balance in life, how to stop blaming others and take charge of your own decisions.

If that sounds like a sermon, it’s my fault. Union actor Fales and director Jack Hofsiss know how to weave themes without pontificating. They both show remarkable sensitivity toward characters, but you respond to this play because it’s fun. And the 96-seat Onyx is a perfect setting; you get to see the actor up-close. His eyes give out a lot of information. Fales also knows how to use the rest of his body to communicate. He has a dancer’s sense of physical control.

The script has been considerably changed since Fales’ 2001 presentation at the Clark County Library. It strikes me as tighter, more theatrical, more light-hearted. Though Fales makes some familiar Mormon and gay jokes, he constantly deepens the territory with specifics. When he’s excommunicated, he’s amazed at how friendly most of the court members are — especially for folk who are condemning him to hell.

Although Fales’ writing is rich in universality, the author makes you feel you are watching a very particular story. You believe Fales has been there, and he and the director succeed beautifully in taking us there as well.

Anthony Del Valle can be reached at DelValle@aol.com. You can write him c/o Las Vegas Review-Journal, P.O. Box 70, Las Vegas, NV 89125.

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