Fringe Festival review: Missionary Position

poster-portugal-flag-150Missionary Position
***
The second installment in Steven Fales's Mormon Boy trilogy, this autobiographical tale purports to chronicle the solo writer-performer's youthful stint in Portugal, proselytizing for the Church of the Latter-day Saints. But like his very dramatic life, this show is all over the map. Fales's last Fringe effort, 2004's Confessions of a Mormon Boy, detailed his marriage, divorce, drug addiction, prostitution and emergence from the closet. While this one attempts to hone in on a specific period in his life—coming of age before coming out—it frequently veers off-track with extraneous fantasy sequences and ironic asides. (Fales's struggle to remember his lines adds to the confusion.) Still there's a lot to admire here. It's powerful watching the performer show off artifacts of a life he'll never completely leave behind (and not just because he has kids); the show is at its best when he drops the diva faade and channels the squeaky-clean, self-questioning 19-year-old he once was. If Fales too often chooses performing over acting, and cheap laughs over nuanced scenes, such failings are nothing that a good director and dramaturg couldn't fix.—Raven Snook