REVIEW: Don’t Make Me Zealous @ Ottawa Fringe 2012

Matt Minter’s Don’t Make Me Zealous sees Tom propose to Jackie and open a whole can of worms about religious expression resulting in him becoming a prophet to the Norse God Odin.

Writer-director of Don’t Make Me Zealous tells you why you should see Don’t Make Me Zealous:

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Don’t Make Me Zealous is an intolerant play about religious intolerance. Tom and Jackie fix to get hitched but when Jackie states she wants to be married in a Catholic Church this throws the Agnostic Tom into a tantrum because he feels that religion has pretty well no place in humanity. A chat with a priest and many drinks later sees Tom find religion and become the prophet of Odin.

Don’t Make Me Zealous is a fun comedy, best shown by a brilliant scene where Tom and his new friend Mark – the Eradicator of Darkness – discuss a ritual that requires drinking blood and consider the option of killing Jackie’s cat. My problem with it is the characterization of Tom. Tom is an asshole. From beginning to end, there is absolutely nothing likable about him, which makes me feel that his new fiancée, Jackie, is just a schmuck for being with him. Emily Bradley is strong as Jackie, and I’m sure Brennan Richardson is strong too, but his Tom is just… well, yeah.

Where the play truly shines in its casting is that of Dave Rowan – who plays a mixture of characters from a waiter, the priest, Mark – The Eradicator of Darkness, as well as the wedding planner. Every scene Rowan is in is a hoot and it’s there that despite a horribly anti-climactic ending, Don’t Make Me Zealous really finds its funny and earns a solid three.

What did you think? Did you agree with our rating? What did you love, or not, about this play? And what rating would you have given it. Tell us in the comments below.

Allan’s Followup:

I enjoyed Don’t Make Me Zealous quite a bit but found a few of the same issues as Matthew. While it does pose an interesting question of — “Why is it only okay if it’s your religion?” — it does get a bit over the top, on the nose, and even occasionally heavy-handed. There is a line between religious expression and basic human decency and beyond Jackie, both the church, and the police, and PETA, would have a problem with sacrificing a sheep on the church steps.

The play is very funny, in an almost absurd way, and it reminded me of a light version of what remains my favourite Fringe play ever. Which is a very good thing. There must be something in the combination of absurd comedy around the killing of cats that just works. No cat dies by the way, in either play.

The lack of chemistry between Tom and Jackie is the main stumbling block for the play. Tom is a dick, and Brennan Richardson does a good job with the character (I also hear he’s good in Mercutio and Ophelia), but there’s no moment in the play that shows us: this is why they love each other, this is why they’re getting married. Right off the bat, it’s proposal, acceptance, and right into the major argument about religion. Emily Bradley is seriously beautiful and a great fit for Jackie, though aside from knowing she’ll put up with a lot of crap, we don’t get to learn much about her beyond that she’s Catholic. Both actors are good, and I buy both of the characters as people, it just would have been nicer for those people to be more interesting and have some chemistry together.

Dave Rowan rounds out the three-actor cast and steals a lot of the scenes with his off-beat characters, sometimes without saying a word. The actors, and the comedy are what makes Don’t Make Me Zealous worth seeing, and I am also a three.

-by Allan Mackey

Kurt’s Followup:

Don’t Make Me Zealous is a comedy that explores faith and religion in the modern world. I really think the show is well written. Matt Minter’s script explores the idea of faith and religion very skillfully. Minter explores multiple viewpoints and the idea of faith is explored, never outright condemned. While Tom’s behavior is bizarre, you might still sympathize with him because, as he argues, how are his beliefs any different from ones that are more common? The climax is effective, showing the point where good, old fashion, positive faith turns into an ugly and unguided zeal.

But what’s really important is the show itself. The show has strong performances, including Dave Rowan, whose turn as Mark, the Eradicator of Darkness was a highlight. The show has great moments of humour too, including a really great scene where Tom and Mark are awkwardly stumbling through a haphazard ritual to honor their new deity. And it really gets ridiculous when a touch of Led Zeppelin is added to the mix. Ridiculous is a good word to describe the show, which is where the humour comes from.

I fully realize that the show is not for everyone, but I got a real kick out of Don’t Make Me Zealous and that’s why it gets a four from me.

- by Kurt Shantz


Matthew Champ

About Matthew Champ

Matthew Champ is the lead reviewer for Production Ottawa's review team, Should You See It, making sure that whether it's local theatre or the latest Hollywood blockbuster to hit theatres, you know whether or not it's worth spending your time or money on.

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