The Nearly Naked Theatre of Phoenix has just begun its 15th season with a production of A Devil Inside, a very clever play written by David Lindsay-Abaire. It is a convoluted and somewhat bizarre tale of freakish murders and dismemberments scattered along a landscape of contemporary New York City and Russian literary masterpieces.
I enjoyed the evening and felt that the performance was worth the drive across Phoenix and the price of the ticket. That said, it fell short of the usual outrageous performances at the Nearly Naked. It wasn't Killer Joe. It wasn't Equus. It wasn't even Side Show. While A Devil Inside was technically flawless, it just did not capture the spark that made those earlier shows such standouts.
My jaded view aside, I did get to sense the play through the eyes of four Nearly Naked novices who sat next to me. Those young men had a good time and yucked it up in all of the right spots. Their favorite part of the performance appeared to be the fifteen minute monologue that the resident director, Damon Dering, gives before every performance. Dering's signature line as he welcomes each audience is "You don't get shit like this at the Herberger." One of the young men blurted out, "Hey, this guy is really funny!" And he is.
The next production at the Nearly Naked will be an adult (and very inappropriate) puppet show called Fifty Shades of Felt. It will run November 16th through 30th, and sounds like a lot of fun.