Fledgling cast cleverly carries off challenging spoof

Scientology was one of the best-known religious philosophies to emerge in the 20th century, but not without controversy. The Church of Scientology’s own Web site acknowledges that the religion has been “attacked, venerated, questioned and praised.”

Oddly enough, that’s the exact mix of opinions being voiced about that faith these days at Theatre on the Square, which is presenting one of the most bizarre, yet unexpectedly enjoyable comic satires to hit Indy this summer.

“A Very Merry Unauthorized Children’s Scientology Pageant” begins for all the world like a traditional holiday children’s holiday pageant. But as those who know TOTS director Ron Spencer’s work will attest, even productions that start traditionally don’t stay that way.

Kyle Jarrow’s nativity story-run-amuck tells not of the life and work of Jesus, Moses or Buddha, but the late science fiction writer and Church of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. Hubbard’s story emerges from the mouthes of babes — well, actually 7- to 13-year-olds. And the tale begins in all seriousness — well, maybe mock seriousness.