Saturday, October 14, 2006

Amazing "Grace"

Last night I dragged myself out of bed to see a play (my thrifty side, which refuses to waste tickets to an event, won out over my body – with the help of medication). And although I was hurting, I’m really glad I did. Man, it has been a long time since I’ve seen something so wonderful that wasn’t in a giant auditorium or on a screen.

The play is called “Grace” and it’s by Craig Wright, who was one of the writers for Six Feet Under, but more importantly, was working on his MDiv and preparing to enter the ministry when a play he wrote took off and he realized he should be a playwright instead. Wow. Boy did he get the message right.

This play was what we should be doing at the Brehm Center – producing stuff of this caliber, that is risky and searching yet completely and totally grounded in faith. It was amazing to see such ability poured by God into this artist who is, in turn, sharing real questions and true grace with those who visit his world. Oh, I wish we could have him speak at Fuller! I want so much to hear more about his story and his process. He is officially on my watch list now.

The play is at the Pasadena Playhouse’s upstairs theater, and I got cheap tickets through Goldstar Events. I cannot recommend it highly enough – if you are in town, you must see it. Especially because since you read this blog, you are interested in exactly what this play is about: doubt, faith, stupid vs. real Christians, crises that take us deeper into God or further from Her, and in the end, grace beyond what we can imagine.

The show is little – a 99 seat theater, only 4 characters, not even an act break. So it requires great acting and writing to keep you engaged. And it delivers. I laughed so much – I could, because I knew the gentle fun being poked at Christians was from someone who knows their world. Like with Jesus Pill, we got a lot of stuff that others wouldn’t. If you have a sense of humor about the weirdness of Christians, you can really enjoy the first section.

The story gets more serious and offers some incredibly touching scenes: a conversion that is so believable that you think you are witnessing someone actually coming to Christ before your eyes, monologues about faith and doubt that cut to the quick of our experience with God. Always and everywhere truth, truth, truth.

My only beef is the ending – it went on about 7 seconds too long. It would have been perfect – and much more compelling – without one last little moment that answered a huge question, one I would have preferred to be left hanging. That was very disappointing (J said it made the difference between it being great and just good). I don’t know if it was the director’s choice or is in the script. I hope Wright knew to leave things ambiguous – I hope his faith isn’t so shattered as to agree with the cynical ending (or as J called it, the “indie Hollywood ending”).

There are really fun filmic techniques in the play. I think that is fun; J hates it (he says, “it shows they really wanted to make a movie but couldn’t afford it”). Whatever. I like it when theater reaches beyond its “accepted” boundaries.

For being a rather simple set and story, it was technically extremely complex. The design elements were terrific – especially the sound. Plus I totally enjoyed the cheesy Christian music that was used during act breaks and in the first scene. The first moments of the play when the leading lady comes onstage singing at the top of her lungs to Amy Grant…well, let’s just say, we’ve all been there.

So see this play if you can at all. If you’re out of town, try to get a production mounted by you! It is the kind of play that churches would never produce (it’s very R-rated for language and a bit of violence) but I so wish they would. It is exactly the kind of art that Christians need to see and that could really touch non-Christians, help them understand the worldview we have. I really might have to see it again myself. If anybody knows Craig Wright, or anyone at Furious Theater Company, please tell them how wonderful the work is, and how much I want them at Fuller!!!

I leave you with the words of the character Sara (from memory, so it’s not perfect): “No. It wasn’t Someone. It was everything. But everything was somehow also Someone. And I felt that everything in the world was a kind of musical harmony, asking me to join in. I hear music everywhere….That is how I look at the world. And if you are ever going to say you knew me, you need to know that is how I look the world.”

1 comment:

Nick Cernoch said...

cHi there.
Great post...I'm so glad you enjoyed the show and we at Furious Theatre are thrilled at the kinds of discussions this play has started.

Hope to see you at the theatre again.