In The Ted Haggard Monologues, playwright-performer Michael Yates Crowley works in a vein that might best be described as solo
Saturday Night Live. This 50-minute piece, presented as part of Collective Unconscious’ inaugural Undergroundzero Festival, imagines the fallout from the scandal that engulfed evangelical leader Ted Haggard last fall, when a male prostitute revealed that Haggard had been using both his services and crystal meth—the sort of moral hypocrisy that would make Molière’s mouth water.
Monologues, subtitled 19 sermons on the theme of sex, never achieves the levels of satirical hilarity that Molière might have devised, however. Instead, as it chronicles the interior thoughts of the principals in the scandal and those around them, it becomes, primarily, a snarky two-dimensional caricature. Crowley’s monologues as the 18-year-old engaged to Haggard’s eldest son are the exception. They’re simultaneously comic and pungent confessionals that explore the conflict between her worldly desires and her evangelical upbringing. Director Michael Rau’s staging lurches unevenly as Crowley shifts (with varying levels of success) between the show’s 10 different characters. But while the performance and script underwhelm, they’re certainly timely, ideal for a festival aiming to create quickly responsive, independent theater.