2023 Capital Fringe Review: ‘The Holy O’ by Lauren Hance (5 stars)

A deeply moving, uniquely intimate, and spiritual exploration of sexuality.

Sex. Religion. Audience participation.

As an anxious ex-Baptist, the premise of Lauren Hance and Amelia Peterson’s The Holy O filled me with apprehension. Sex scenes on TV make me squirm; plays about religion can sometimes lack nuance and end up feeling preachy despite their heavy-handed “irreverence.” Audience participation often comes off as insincere: an audience member tries and fails to be funny; actors try to embarrass, shock, or provoke. It is a difficult trifecta to balance, but one that The Holy O manages with grace and sincerity.

A uniquely intimate and spiritual experience, The Holy O invites audience members to become active participants in the story as soon as they walk into the space. A Greek chorus of unconventional saints, the audience participation is largely voluntary but compelling, even for a wallflower like me. The audience interactions with actress Lauren Hance are genuinely warm and gentle — she has extraordinary emotional intelligence and intuition, matching each saint’s kindness, humor, and energy. Hance fosters an intimate environment with the deft hand you might expect from a counselor; she never feels like an actor, but a person you have the privilege to get to know.

The Holy O is a deeply moving experience without an ounce of pretense. The piece masterfully explores sexuality without shame, taboo, or crudeness, beautifully blending moments of humor and solemnity. It is rare that such a piece makes the audience feel so nurtured; while heavy at times, we’re left basking in the glow of what we’ve experienced, and wishing the run time was longer.


Running Time: 60 minutes.

The Holy O plays July 22 at 9:40 pm and July 23 at 7:55 pm at Rind – 1025 Thomas Jefferson. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased online.

Genre: Comedy
Director: Amelia Peterson
Playwright: Lauren Hance
Performer: Lauren Hance
Age Appropriateness: Appropriate for adults only
Profanity: Yes

SEE ALSO: 2023 Capital Fringe Preview: ‘The Holy O’ (preview by Lauren Hance, June 23, 2023)

The complete 2023 Capital Fringe Festival guidebook is online here.


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