January 22, 1998: Mysteries

Barbican Pit

Touted as based on medieval mystery plays — “inspired by” them — “with additional text by Edward Kemp” — this is a mishmash with no real concept or point of view. There are some wonderful performances of certain characters — Adam and Eve emerging from the slime, covered with mud and naked; the Procurator of Judea; Jews — but it adds up to very little. We begin with an alliterative, rhymed text reminiscent of middle English and gradually progress to a thoroughly contemporary idiom full of “fucking” — the seeming mark that this is authentically the language of real life. We are not shown the two most central and important scenes in the New Testament: the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. This is an “inspiration” to provide a dramatization of a narrative in which God is just a low-key manager who is constantly disappointed with his creation and who fades into the background toward the end. What was the point of it all?


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An American Playgoer in London by Joseph Donohue is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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