The lifetime of Saint Francis of Assisi was a life filled with tragedy. The son of a rich Italian service provider, he had a Twelfth-century playboy who went to battle and was imprisoned for a 12 months. He had mystical visions, stole from his dissenting father to offer to the church and devoted himself to a lifetime of poverty following Christ’s instance, founding a non secular order. He noticed God in nature, thanked the solar, taught the birds – an instance of equality and ecology adopted by many, together with the present Pope.
Only a few of those films register within the “God Idiot,” The dance theater manufacturing about Pope Francis opened at La MaMa’s Ellen Stewart Theater on Thursday. And though conceived and directed by Martha Clarke, creator of many well-known dance theater productions, “God Idiot” accommodates little or no of theatrical dance.
As an alternative, Francis (Patrick Andrews) and his followers principally stroll round a cobbled stage in monks’ robes, speaking about God and religion. When doubtful, they sing.
That’s not an issue in itself, because the vocals, principally unaccompanied, are wonderful. Organized and directed by Arthur Solari, it helps set the world up within the first place, because the robed forged begins the Easter ritual. And the frequent retreat into music gives the look of a herd of confusion clinging to fellowship.
However the vocals contribute to a number of the present’s confusion over time and style. Picks have strayed from the time of Pope Francis to an African-American spiritualist and a few Gustav Mahler. When Francis began a Broadway-style duet of the American people music “Wayfaring Stranger” with Clare, the feminine member of his ensemble, we have been undoubtedly not in Assisi anymore.
Andrews’ Francis is solely American, a misplaced boy. This manner, he gained’t sound misplaced in a David Mamet play or perhaps “Lease”. He has nice temper swings, laughs hysterically, cries when obligatory, hovers over nature like a Beat poet. The saint will need to have been a disruptive, bewildering determine, however when Francis’ exasperated father referred to as him a parasite and a brat, it felt all too correct.
This central efficiency contrasts with Fanny Howe’s poetic textual content. The script stays the identical, alternating between solitary tales and scenes that aren’t pure dialogue however an trade of fragmentary passages. A illustration goes like this:
Francis: Hit me, Leo.
Leo: I can’t beat you Francis.
Luca: You must be part of the circus, Francis.
Francis: I ought to die.
The supply makes this and lots of related exchanges inadvertently comedian e book. Veteran efficiency artist John Kelly, who performs the red-horned satan accompanying Francis and his followers, contributes various purposeful comedies and commedia dell’arte flavors. However neither Kelly nor the outsized animal heads (Margie Jervis’s masks) nor the actions between photographs (individuals being blown by the wind or carrying Francis overhead) don’t compensate sufficient to offer the manufacturing the weirdness and surprise it wanted.
And so whereas some dramatic incidents in Francis’ life are lined up – abuse from his father, educating to birds, the looks of the holy mark and the bolder kiss of Clare and ghosts – virtually nothing seems convincingly or illuminating.
One thing that resonates, together with the singing, is one thing hidden however implicit in Howe’s phrases: “explorations of a world simply an inch away from our senses, like fragrance you may’t see, the fragrance you catch from the Could tree.” What “God Idiot” might have revealed.
Come July 2 on the Ellen Stewart Theater; lamama.org.