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Crucifixion, by Terrence McNally, New Conservatory Theater, San Francisco

Arthur truly loves the theater. Having served on the board of the Theatre Rhinoceros for many years, he has a greater propensity and willingness to indulge than I do. So Thursday he called to ask if I wanted to go see a preview of Terrence McNalley's new play. And we did!
 
It is a religious "Six Degrees of Separation", and although it was the playwright's intent to focus on the many connections of a life, or in this case a murder, I found the many religious connections just too compelling. Having seen Corpus Christi, on the same stage, and having done the same kind of religious inventory that that play demanded, this one seemed as well to ask that kind of discipline. All the current religions are taken to task: hedonism, Catholicism (being represented by the Society of Jesus), mass culture (no pun intended), correct political speech, queer think, and several others. And all of them are compelling.
 
One line in particular, spoken by a humpy latino Jesuit, captured my imagination. In the midst of a casual confession to a fellow priest, he declames, "I am not interested in confessing sins, only truths." There are a lot of sins in this play - but ultimately they are not very interesting. It is the truths that capture the imagination of the audience. Like Oppenheimer in Dr. Atomic (see above), the sins can get in the way of seeing what the truth really is.
 
The sets are almost a church by Marcel Breuer out of the 70s. Stark white, they highlight the action of the characters, and almost make icons of them - but then, isn't that the intent? There is gratuitous nudity and bad language, but they are all beside the point. I wish I were still preaching. This one definitely would have made it into a sermon!
 
 
MTH 11/12/05
 
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