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Why are they always sacrificing lambs? Why do they think we like that?— Dionysus
Because of something father said a long time ago.&mdashJesus
Does father really like it when they slaughter lambs?—Dionysus
He loves it! You’ve never noticed how he gets? He does that weird dance. — Jesus
Playwright Thomas Bradshaw doesn’t shy away from graphic depictions of sex, violence, and depravity. Some critics, myself included , thought that he may have too generously sprinkled the gratuitous shock on some of his earlier work. In his new play, Job, such inclinations have met a natural partner. After all, what can be more shocking, violent, and often inexplicable than what occurs in the Old Testament? In Job, Bradshaw has re-imagined that specific book of the Hebrew Bible and, while he has taken vast poetic license, the calamities he dreams up for our hero (played solidly by Sean McIntyre) would not feel out of place in the original text.
Sean McIntyre as Job.
Photo credit: Hunter Canning
Yet, as the dialogue quoted above illustrates, there is incisive humor here, too. Bradshaw cross-pollinates ancient texts, portraying Jesus (Grant Harrison) and Dionysus (Eric Folks) as dopey brothers, a canonical “Dumb and Dumber” team, incessantly bickering over trifles and enthralled with their cool uncle, Satan (Stephen Stout). God (Ugo Chukwu), for his part, punctuates his momentous deeds with a “Whoo!” a la Little Richard. Despite the brattiness of Jesus and Dionysus, the siblings are still capable of being blown away by the old man’s majesty. And, Job’s exchanges with his bitter wife Sarah (Cleo Gray) are understated gems.
Despite a twenty-one member cast of the Flea’s young Bats, director Benjamin H. Kamine makes exceptional use of the tight lower theater by having the actors speak, lounge, and even attack each other, unflinchingly and unabashedly, just inches from the first row of seats. Scenes of violence are particularly convincing; a suffocation, for instance, does not end quickly, as it might in the movies. And Kamine and choreographer Joya Powell, who conducted extensive research into ancient Persian dance, have done a splendid job with a village musical celebration after the Job-sanctioned stoning of an accused rapist.
If you’re seeking a modern answer to the age-old question of why God (should you believe in one) permits suffering, you won’t find it here; Bradshaw joins the chorus of questioners. Like the canonical text itself, Job eschews explanation of a system where God permits Satan to rule the earth, when he could so easily obliterate evil. Ours is not to question God’s will, but to simply accept. Along the way, that makes for more than a few absurd outcomes.
Editor's Note: With the exception of 2010 we've reviewed a Thomas Bradshaw's play a season since 2008. Last year's offering was a high profile production, but with Job Bradshaw is back in a, for him, more natural milieu. Following are links to our previouws reviews:
Dawn - 2008
By Thomas Bradshaw
Directed by Benjamin H. Kamine
Cast: Jaspal Binning (Joshua), Edgar Eguia (Matthew), Adam Lebowitz-Lockard (Jonas), Sean McIntyre (Job), Jennifer Tsay (Rachel), Marie-Claire Roussel (Esther), Bradley Anderson (Andrew), Layla Khoshnoudi (Miriam), Ugo Chkwu (God), Stephen Stout (Satan), Grant Harrison (Jesus), Eric Folks (Dionysus), Jimmy Dailey (David), Cleo Gray (Sarah), Timothy Craig (Messenger), Ivano Pulito (Jeremiah), Alex Coelho (Joseph), Abraham Makany (Son 1), Chester Poon (Son 2), Nicolle Medina (New Wife), Christin Eve Cato (Youn g Woman)
Set Design: Aaron Green
Costume Design: Ashley Farra
Lighting Design: Jonathan Cottle
Sound Design: Jeremy Bloom
Fight Director: Michael Wiesner
Choreography: Joya Powell
Stage Manager: Courtney Ulrich
Makeup Artist and Special Effects: Justin Tyme
Running Time: 75 minutes, no intermission
The Flea , 41 White St., NYC, www.theflea.org
From August 31, 2012 – November 3, 2012; (extended run), Opening September 19, 2012
Performance schedule: Thurs. Sept. 20- Sun. Sept. 23 at 7pm; Thurs. Sept. 27-Fri. Sept. 28 at 7 pm, Sat. Sept. 29 at 9 pm, Sun. Sept. 30 at 1 pm, Thurs. Oct. 3-Sat. Oct. 5 at 9 pm, Sun. Oct. 6 at 7 pm, Fri. Oct. 12 at 9 pm, Sat. Oct. 13 at 1 pm, Fri. Oct. 19 at 9 pm, Sat. Oct. 20 at 1 pm, Fri. Oct. 26 at 9 pm, Sat. Oct. 27 at 1 pm, Fri. Nov. 2 at 9pm, Sat. Nov. 3 at 1 pm
Reviewed by William Coyle, based on the September 14, 2012 performance.
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