‘God’s Idiot’ Evaluate: A Singing, Beat Poet Saint
The lifetime of St. Francis of Assisi was a dramatic one. The kid of a rich Italian service provider, he had a Twelfth-century playboy youth, went to conflict and spent a yr in captivity. He had mystical visions, stole from his disapproving father to present to the church and devoted himself to a lifetime of poverty in imitation of Christ, founding a non secular order. He noticed God in nature, thanking the solar, preaching to birds — setting an instance of equality and ecology adopted by many, together with the present Pope.
Little or no of this drama registers in “God’s Idiot,” the dance theater work about Francis that opened at La MaMa’s Ellen Stewart Theater on Thursday. And regardless of being conceived and directed by Martha Clarke, the creator of many acclaimed dance theater items, “God’s Idiot” incorporates little or no dance theater.
As a substitute, Francis (Patrick Andrews) and his followers principally wander round a gravel-strewn stage in friars’ robes, speaking about God and religion. When doubtful, they sing.
That’s not an issue in itself, for the reason that singing, principally unaccompanied, is superb. Organized and directed by Arthur Solari, it helps set up the world from the beginning, because the cloaked solid enters intoning an Easter vigil. And the frequent retreat into tune offers a way of a confused flock clinging to fellowship.
However the singing does contribute to a few of the present’s confusion of time and style. The picks stray from Francis’s time into an African American non secular and a few Gustav Mahler. When Francis breaks right into a Broadway-style duet of the American folks tune “Wayfaring Stranger” with Clare, the feminine member of his flock, we’re positively not in Assisi anymore.
Andrews’s Francis is wholly American, a misplaced boy. In method, he wouldn’t appear misplaced in a David Mamet play or perhaps “Hire.” He does large swings of temper, laughing hysterically, weeping when vital, mooning over nature like a Beat poet. The saint should have been disruptive, bewildering determine, however when Francis’s exasperated father calls him a bum and a brat, it feels all-too correct.
This central efficiency is at odds with Fanny Howe’s poetic textual content. The script is spare, alternating between soliloquies and scenes that aren’t naturalistic dialogue however exchanges of fragments. A consultant one goes like this:
The supply makes this and plenty of comparable exchanges unintentionally comedian. The veteran efficiency artist John Kelly, taking part in a red-horned satan who accompanies Francis and his followers, contributes some intentional comedy and commedia dell’arte taste. However neither Kelly nor oversize animal heads (masks by Margie Jervis) nor between-scenes bits of motion (everybody blown by the wind or carrying Francis aloft) compensate sufficient to present the manufacturing the strangeness and surprise it wants.
And so, whereas a few of the dramatic incidents in Francis’s life are coated — abuse from his father, the preaching to birds, the looks of stigmata and, extra boldly, kissing Clare and the satan — nearly nothing comes throughout convincingly or illuminatingly.
What resonates, together with the singing, is one thing unsung however latent in Howe’s phrases: “revelations of a world simply an inch from our senses, like perfumes you may’t see, perfumes you catch from a Could tree.” What “God’s Idiot” might need revealed.
By July 2 at Ellen Stewart Theater; lamama.org.
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