If you’ve ever read John Irving’s novel “A Prayer For Owen Meany,” you were probably curious about what Owen — the tiny, rodent-like boy with the frightfully high-pitched voice who is sent from God — actually sounded like. Well, Sean Mellot, the talented actor playing Owen in Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park’s production of the story, has your answer.
Mellot, who starred as Owen in the opening of the show this weekend, gave magnificent life to this unique character. For those who may be unfamiliar with the story, Owen Meany is a very small boy who grows up in the 1960s with the story’s narrator, John Wheelwright. Owen has visions sent from God predicting the deaths of people he loves, including himself.
In the beginning, the play feels surprisingly religious to be showing at a non-affiliated theater, as John discusses his religious beliefs and Owen drones on about faith.
However, as the play progresses, the general message begins to change. As John gets caught up in the minutiae of the different sects of Christianity, Owen chimes in to criticize all the complex and nuanced views on faith, comparing them with his own take on a simpler God.
The play does not encourage you to convert to Christianity or anything like that; instead, it gives face to the many ways that Christianity is interpreted and the petty quarrels that different Christians have with one another.
Playhouse in the Park’s prop design team did a fantastic job with the stage in this production, too. Many times during the show, Owen hooks wires descending from the rafters to his trousers and is launched 10- to 15-feet into the air. And a rising and sinking rectangular trap door in the middle of the stage serves to bring new characters and props into the scenes in an interesting manner — whether it be a kitchen table set up for Thanksgiving dinner or one of the many coffins that appear throughout the show.
GO: “A Prayer For Owen Meany,” Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, 962 Mt. Adams Circle, through Oct. 1, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday. $95, $80, $65 or $40 depending on price zone. See www.cincyplay.com for more info.