Saturday, October 31, 2009
The magical "Mystery Plays" are waiting to take you away ...
Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa's The Mystery Plays is really two plays. Both are genuinely disturbing. Greg Leaming directed the recent FSU/Asolo Conservatory performance. Great theater -- but I didn't expect it to get under my skin the way it did. If spoilers disturb you, read no more.
In The Filmmaker's Mystery, a gay filmmaker (Dane Dandridge Clark) survives a train wreck and discovers, hello, he's really a sin eater. This is sort of like a Jr. Jesus Christ, without the job perks. He gets to take the sin and guilt of various victims of various calamities. On himself. To allow the victims to go on to heaven. He gets to go blind and become an outcast from society. But one dead guy (Kenneth Stellingwerf) proves to be indigestible.
Ghost Children reveals a young lawyer (Kim Hausler) who confronts the man (Ron Kagan) who brutally murdered her parents and younger sister 15 years ago. Along with being the killer, he's also her brother. The supernatural doesn't enter into it. The horror here is Sacasa's precise imagination -- what would go through the killer's mind; why he would do it; how his sister would react; the shadow it would cast on her mind; the cost of forgiveness.
Reviewers like to compare Sacasa to Rod Serling. He reminds me more of Neil Gaiman (who wrote the Sandman graphic novel series) and Guillermo del Toro (the director of The Devil's Backbone and Pan's Labyrinth). The connection is more than the mix of reality and fantasy. It's more a genuine sense that an Other World really does exist -- and it's not a fantasy. And not always friendly.
Horror comes in two flavors: It's either absolutely irrational or it's a bloody application of divine law. Sacasa suggests a third possibility: horror is a reflection of divine law -- which makes no sense to human reason.
That really scares me.
'The Mystery Plays!'
Short version: Gets under your skin.
Through Nov. 15
FSU/Asolo Conservatory production
Cook Theatre, FSU Center for the Arts
5555 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota