Fringe review: Interrupting the Sermon

By John Lyle Belden

“Interrupting the Sermon,” presented by First Hand Theatrical at Musician’s Union Hall, commemorates the late Wayne C. Olson, a minister who had congregations in New York state and Indianapolis, portrayed by his son Kevin Olson as well as John Kohan and Perry Hunt.

The show combines poetry, true stories and a sermon, all written by the elder Olson. The message, “My Bible: Then and Now,” is set up with “interruptions” of recollections from his life or verses of his poems. He tells of being awed by a dying girl’s enthusiasm for her faith, and appalled by the treatment others give an AIDS patient who seeks his help. And he relates how his dealings with others always have lessons for him, especially in how he relates to the scriptures on which, as a minister, he is expected to be an expert.

“Sometimes there is more grace and forgiveness outside the church than within it,” Olson muses, as he grapples with what that means in the bigger picture of his sacred mission.

This celebration of life and faith inspires and challenges us – as a good sermon should. Yet it’s not too “preachy” – no fire-and-brimstone or altar call. Kevin Olson does his father proud, and Kohan and Hunt smoothly stitch the show together into a satisfying whole.

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