Review: HOW TO WRITE A NEW BOOK FOR THE BIBLE at Taproot Theatre

A touching personal account of loss, love, and family

By: Mar. 31, 2024
Review: HOW TO WRITE A NEW BOOK FOR THE BIBLE at Taproot Theatre
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Review: HOW TO WRITE A NEW BOOK FOR THE BIBLE at Taproot Theatre
Nik Doner and Richard Nguyen Sloniker in 
How to Write a New Book for the Bible
 at Taproot Theatre.
Photo Credits: Robert Wade

You may need to bring your own tissues for this one. Taproot Theatre Company has opened its production of Bill Cain’s play, How to Write a New Book for the Bible. The 4-person cast, artfully directed by Bretteney Beverly, tells the harrowing and heart-wrenching story beautifully. 

The play introduces us to a family dealing with the impending loss of their mother, Mary. Bill, a playwright and priest, has put his life on hold to come home to care for her while she battles a terminal illness. Written by the real-life Bill, this story has a personal feel that is hard to find in other works. 

The story is told through flashbacks and in non-chronological order. This format coupled with the quick pacing keeps the audience engaged and searching for answers to the puzzle that is this family’s story. 

How to Write a New Book for the Bible features Richard Nguyen Sloniker (Bill), Pam Nolte (Mary), Nik Doner (Paul), and Scott Nolte (Pete). Each member of this small cast is absolutely outstanding, moving the audience to laughter and, more often, tears as they deliver the heartbreaking text. 

Richard Nguyen Sloniker is the true highlight of this show. His ability to quickly jump between conscious and subconscious narration, his comedic timing, and the distinct way he interacts with each character carry the show to its high-quality status. Sloniker knows exactly what moments deserve the highest emphasis, and this talent makes the most important moments of the text that much more meaningful. 

Review: HOW TO WRITE A NEW BOOK FOR THE BIBLE at Taproot Theatre
Nik Doner, Scott Nolte, Richard Nguyen Sloniker,
and Pam Nolte in 
How to Write a New Book for the Bible 
at Taproot Theatre. Photo Credits: Robert Wade

Pam Nolte’s portrayal of the strong-willed Mary is excellent. She navigates an extremely complex character with spunk and a deep understanding of who Mary is. She introduces us to a woman who is dealing with unimaginable pain but still allows us to get to know her for who she is and was throughout her life. Nolte delivers some of the most tear-jerking moments in the show, offering extremely delicate lines with grace and poise.

Nik Doner and Scott Nolte are equally as outstanding as Sloniker and Pam Nolte. Both play a variety of characters on top of their portrayal of the brother, Paul and the family’s father, Pete, respectively. Doner offers quite a few exceptionally funny moments, which are juxtaposed with his heartfelt delivery of some of the play's more serious beats. Scott Nolte’s portrayal of Pete offers the audience an in-depth understanding of why this family operates the way it does, introducing us to a tough-loving father who makes a remarkable impact on many lives.

These events all unfold on an extremely simple set, designed by scenic and lighting designer Mark Lund. The set's simplicity lends itself to the actual decorations of the house, the memories. We can see these decorations in the way that Mary interacts with the space, in the most loving way imaginable. 

As pointed out in the title, this show heavily orbits around religion and themes of Catholicism. Due to this, there is a strong target audience that not everyone in the audience may fall into, though I do think anyone could enjoy the humor and lessons in dealing with loss this show provides.

How to Write a New Book for the Bible runs from now until April 20 at Taproot Theatre. For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit: