The sacred or the profane? Blessings or blasphemies?
The New Theatre Project's current production examines the big, controversial questions in the context of collective experience. As reported previously, ‘The Everyman Project, ‘ written by TNTP Playwright-in-Residence Jason Sebacher, explores the 15th Century ‘Everyman’ medieval morality play from a contemporary perspective.
Ben Stange (Cloud Tectonics) directs this unique, thoughtful mash up, which includes words pulled from the 600-year-old text juxtaposed against personal reflections from TNTP company members as they answered the question, ‘What is a moment in your life when you realized, afterward, everything would be different.’ As Stange explained after the show, this project is not about providing a single, ‘ultimate TRUTH,’ but rather, truth as a composite of ‘Everyman’s’ experience – with all its contradictions intact.
The new, intimate performance space on Felch Street serves the interactive nature of the production and showcases the stellar abilities of this young ensemble.
For example, Luna Alexander, who assumes the role of Death, deliberately makes eye contact with audience members – and her sly, siren grace is both compelling and unnerving. She is, after all, the Angel of Death, and we’re never quite sure if she’s laughing with us or at us.
Everyone in this play is seeking meaning and redemption, although in conversations with each other, most of the characters claim to reject a belief in God and an afterlife. Even when they are joking about it with the incognito Angle of Death.
Elise Randall, as Everyman, is led by Death on a journey of self-examination triggered by an accident that threatens to claim the life of her mother (Anlea Maria Lessenberry). In a series of crisp but seamless scenes, we meet Elise’s manipulative boyfriend (played convincingly by Ben Berg) and their mutual friend, the sweet and thoughtful Andy (Andrew England), who accepts the ‘gift of penance ’ as a poignant act of sacrificial contrition. Ultimately, Elise confronts her grief and is able to comfort her dying mother in a sacramental moment that, in its own way, releases them both from Death’s shadow.
This is a moving and thought-provoking production that is well worth seeing. It runs on weekends through Sunday, May 15th in the new performance space at 220 Felch Street in Ann Arbor (the entrance is in the back of the building, up the stairs). There will be two performances each on Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m., with Sunday performances at 8:00 p.m. only.
Tickets are $15, and students/seniors/industry tickets are $10 (cash or check only). Tickets can be reserved by calling or texting The New Theatre Project box office at 734.645.9776 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. For more details, visit the TNTP website.