Ethiopian Tattoo Shop

Based on an '80s spiritual self-help book by a Catholic priest named Edward Hays, this earnest adaptation is essentially an evening of eight parables about the spiritual search for happiness and contentment. An American traveler stumbles into a mystical tattoo shop in North Africa, and instead of receiving a traditional ink marking, he is treated to an evening of “inspirational” storytelling from the Ethiopian shop owner. Four additional actors fill out these tales that range from the trite and obvious (a fig tree dreaming it could be a pear tree and the gardener reminding it to look down at its roots to remember who it truly was) to the intriguing, yet still obvious (a South American artist subverts a tyrannical government with his brush and not a gun). Despite occasional cornball acting choices and goofy accents, the Prometheus Theater Company does hit enjoyable and powerful tones, especially in the end with a soulful and spirited meeting with God (the charismatic and golden-voiced Jonathan Smothers). Even with the well-meaning cast, it's hard to transcend source material with lines such as, “[This fig tree] bears only the fruits of failure” and “Manure is an essential companion to those who want to become fully mature.” — Nathaniel Eaton

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