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Secrets of a Gay Mormon Felon adds spice to KC Fringe Fest

Secrets of a Gay Mormon Felon

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The title of the play is intriguing, true, and, at $5, it’s one of the less expensive shows at Fringe Fest this year. This all drew me in, but I must admit that I was skeptical about how engaging an hour long, one-man play with almost no set and minimal production could be.

Fortunately, playwright, actor, and subject matter Kimball Allen posses the assets of colorful material in his life story, a gift for story-telling, and a charisma that drew in the audience from beginning to end.

Allen leads off the play with the scene of his arrest (in which he plays both himself and the arresting officer, in a bathrobe for both roles), and then spends most of the rest of the play telling us how he arrived there.

He begins with his childhood, raised in an “Orthodox” Mormon family with 10 children in small town Idaho. “My family is very unique,” 10-year old Allen realizes, “The verdict is out on whether I want to be unique with them.”

In 19 short vignettes, he plays out his life, each scene representing formational periods or events that paved the path of his adventurous, tumultuous life, struggling as a boy and later as an adult with rules and assumed life choices. Some rules, such as “boys don’t kiss boys,” lead him to struggle with himself, his family, his community, and his religion.

Allen acts out his life story with humor, grace, and compassion, never blaming anyone else for his misdeeds, but also questioning the authority of a religion that tears people apart with unhealthy rules. The audience is swept up in his story while also discovering parallels in their own lives, places where they have tried to live up to standards and rules that are unrealistic or unhealthy. They cry with him when he sobs in the courtroom, “This is not the life that I chose to live,” and find hope in his final scene, “Absolution.”

Allen’s performs "Secrets of a Gay Mormon Felon" twice more this coming week at Fringe Fest:

Friday, July 27, 9:30 p.m.

Saturday, July 28, 6:30 p.m.

Westport Coffee House (in downstairs theater)

Cost: $5 + Fringe Fest button (can be purchased at venue)

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