Laughs the salvation of ‘Messiah on the Frigidaire’


For The State

Workshop Theatre’s quirky “Messiah on the Frigidaire” steps off the beaten path to take its audience on a journey of laughter, even if it leads them back firmly into the mainstream to deliver its ultimate message of love and perseverance.

Written by Greenville playwright John Culbertson, the play follows the story of a small-town trailer-park couple who discover the shadow of Jesus on their outdoor refrigerator, then learn through the ensuing wackiness to appreciate what they have, which is the love of each other.

Director Wayne-John Rousse effectively exploits the ripe comic potential of the story, tactfully and tastefully presenting the low-rent but sure-fire humor.

Aiding in this success is actor Shane Walters, whose comic timing as the redneck husband with a heart of gold stands out. Katherine Prenovost as the existential trailer wife and Leah Verona as her confidante (and town tramp) handle the physical humor adeptly, and both serve well to highlight costume designer Becky Hunter’s substantial contribution to the overall atmosphere.

For bringing great physical and vocal energy, Toby Taylor stands out among the supporting cast as the slick, self-righteous, exploitative, dream-crushing small-town banker.

The production crew artfully creates the trailer-park environment in set, lighting and sound. The set strikes a nice balance by providing the viewer more texture than is necessary to support the action, but not so much as to seem distracting or overdone.

The show is clearly at its best in the comic moments, particularly in the first act, where the audience can barely catch its breath between laughs.

There is, however, a leveling of energy in the second act, as the show becomes more serious and moves the viewer toward the ultimate message. Indeed, in this case the text giveth and the text taketh away. Where the irrepressible humor in the writing certainly carries the play through a few flat spots in the production, given the edgy energy of the build-up, one might expect a bit more unconventional resolution.

Considered as a whole, though, the show is quite entertaining, offering something new and offbeat to Workshop’s patrons while maintaining a conservative and life-affirming edge.