Storytelling Pops in “All-One!” at Know

Know’s “All-One” is a brief Fringe-y entertainment, perfect for anyone looking for a light diversion after dinner in Over-The-Rhine or before a nightcap.  “All-One!” runs through March 26.

Review by Liz Eichler

From the moment you enter Know Theatre’s “All-One!” stage space you know you’re in for a fun and quirky experience. You smile as you hear peppy unusual music and see a variety of actors warming up. Bubbles are projected on the shower curtains across the stage, and you know you are in for something more than a soap opera.

“All-One! The Doctor Bronner’s Play” is an exploration of both Dr. Bronner’s soap and the inventor’s unique life and goals.  Written by Beth Hyland and directed by one of Cincinnati and America’s favorite storytellers, Erika Kate McDonald, it captures you with words, movement, and devices. The unfurling of the story and themes absorbs you and immerses you into this soapy world. Parts are linear, other non-linear, building suspense, and even breaking the fourth wall. 

Back Story of “All-One!”

You likely have seen the soap bottle, the one with writing everywhere, similar, as one performer explains, to the rantings of a term paper that is the product of an Adderall-fueled all-nighter. The message is a philosophy Bronner called the Moral ABC.  He centers on the idea of an “All One God that would unite people across traditional religious and ethnic divides.” The soap is based on olive oil (hence his term Castille soap) which can do everything from wash your body to kill ants and 16 more uses. What is the difference between a madman and a genius, a messiah or a pariah? It is more than a really good soap that forges a legacy. 

Cast of
Elizabeth Chinn Molloy in “All-One!” at Know Theatre. Dan R. Winters Photography.

The Production

The six-member ensemble is solid and diverse, across ethnic and (assuming) religious divides: L. Lucía  Duque, Ian Timothy Forsgren, Erin McCamley, Elizabeth Chinn Molloy, Willemien Patterson, and R. DeAndré Smith. Each one has at least one shining monologue, song or dance. Love the dancing leg hairs and the dog washing story. There are some more emotional ones, tied in with washing routines and family washing rituals. Or, the hilarious focus on how effective it is not to wash away the manly pheromones. 

Cast of
Cast of “All-One!” at Know Theatre. Dan R. Winters Photography.

Interspersed with the uses of the product, is Dr. Bronner’s background. Born in 1908, Emanuel Heilbronner came from a German Jewish soap making family.  By 1930 he moves to the US and drops the “Heil” from his name, because of the “Hitler stuff.” By 1948 he begins production of his special soap, at the same time trying to spread the word about his Moral ABC and a call for world peace, which helps it become the favorite soap of the 60’s and 70’s. 

Andrew J. Hungerford bathes the simple but effective set (kiddie pool, shower curtains) in colorful lighting. Douglas J. Borntrager’s sound and projections set the tone. Noelle Wedig-Johnston ensured the cast is waterproof and vibrant clothing and bathing suits. Danielle Robison’s props are notable for their style. 

Know’s “All-One” is a brief Fringe-y entertainment, perfect for anyone looking for a light diversion after dinner in Over-The-Rhine or before a nightcap.  “All-One!” runs through March 26. 

Ticketing and More Information

For tickets to “All-One!” go to the Know website.  For more information about the soap and philosophy, go to the Dr. Bronner website. And yes, the soaps are in the restrooms.

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