Hotel Bethlehem

Two gay playwrights retell Bible stories, but it's not as funny as it sounds

"Scholars say the actual sin of Sodom was not homosexuality," writes playwright Tim Bryant in his program notes to Hotel Bethlehem. "It was the city's act of being inhospitable [to] strangers." Bryant and his writing partner, Tom Kelly, are gay satirical revisionists who have rewritten a few Bible stories from both Testaments in a show that intends to correct the old material as well as make fun of it. It's a nice idea, but it doesn't work. A Sodomite family, on the original Christmas Eve, has just escaped from their burning city. They arrive at the inn in Bethlehem, where the greedy innkeeper kowtows to the wealthy father, Mordachi, after slamming the door on Mary and Joseph. Mordachi's oversexed daughters flirt with a Roman centurion who "seeks boys," and a nearsighted angel with a sensitive nose keeps mistaking the rundown inn for the barn. Hotel Bethlehem wants to be a tasteless and groaningly funny alternative to The Nutcracker or A Christmas Carol -- a show you can bring your hip gay boyfriend to see without running into your parents. The acting, unfortunately, stinks worse than the barn, and the promised Bible-revisionism gets lost in a swamp of silly routines. Even midrun, the cast seemed unrehearsed. Samantha Stephenson-Smith and Danielle Thys are not as bad as the others, but then, as Mordachi's daughters, they get all the good lines: "Sister and I were born in Sodom. We don't care what's going on behind us!" And, "As they say in Sodom, Bottoms up!" Yeah. Best viewed while drunk.

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