Friday, September 15, 2017

"The Christians" by Lucas Hnath, Pacific Theatre

We all loved “The Christians” by Lucas Hnath at Pacific Theatre.  Sarah Rodgers directions were so very good I didn’t once think the show was even choreographed. It was that smooth.  I loved the choir and the songs and Lonnie Delisle the choir director.  The costumes by Sydney Savannah were priceless, some of the choir members truly reminding me of classic ‘church ladies’ of my childhood. The hats could well have been from my mother and aunt’s closet. It was that real.  The play was such a romp, like a televangical mega church experience in the small Pacific Theatre.  Sound designer Rick Colhoun can take a bow for that. His surround experience had me thinking of the recent U2 concert we’d attended.
Tre Cotton played Associate Pastor Joshua while Ron Reed played mature Pastor Paul.  They were perfect. The younger and older man and all the dynamics of leadership.  Always there was a mirroring of what was being said of God and Jesus and Biblical teaching and the behaviour of those in dialogue.  Macrocosm and microcosm.  The intellectual and emotional, flawlessly juxtaposed. Brilliant writing and acting.  Erin Ormond played Pastor Paul’s wife Elizabeth.  She and Paul were truly deep with the bedroom discussion of relations and agreement and disagreement, truly over the top.  Unbelievable intimacy and  theatre.  Yes I felt like the very fault in society today was being plumbed, the challenge of conservatives and liberals, whigs and tories, republican and democrat, change or no change, truth or untruth.  The whole dance of the present was happening there before us in the words and acting on stage.  I loved Lucas Hnath’s writing as it touched the soul of church and society today.
The idea revolved around ‘hell’.  Did it exist? What was it? Really a question of carrot and whip.  Funny too. The images that played out in words.  Punishment and guilt. Redemption. All the while the big words were reduced to little behaviours, questions and expressions.  Congregant Jenny played by Mariam Barry reduced it all to how to pay for food for her son and clothing and costs and what was true.  She was so real.  Lofty theology met honest social work.  All happening in an amazing play that was broken up in bits with music and song then deeply spiritual questions. I loved it.  Allan Morgan playing Elder Jay really questioned the cost to the church and the attendance issues, marketing, building, debts and sales, politics.  Funny considerations in the midst of deciphering what God is saying.  Central to all was the  "urge to communicate but the distance was insurmountable."
Our friend Lorne had driven in from Chilliwack for it. We’d gone for a great meal and super service at Cafe Barney before the play discussing taxation of the poor by the elite and the ungodly corruption of our present. government. Then we were at this play with it’s whole other higher set of challenging ideas.   Anna and Kevin met up with us after having just returned from  their monumental cross country expedition with the god kids.  Laura and I love going to church with them all and having a White Spot or Earl’s after church lunch.  This was  opening night and a really fine full house night indeed.  After we all talked  of art and ideas and culure and travel.  Lucia Frangrione, my favourite playwright, was there and we even got to say hi.  Other friends of Pacific Theatre we’ve come to know because they, like us, love this theatre so very much were there too, all of us happy with a truly great production and performance.
Thank you all for a  great night of theatre and some very loving challenges to heartfelt thought.

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