Sanctimony written and directed by Joe Woodward.Music by Dirk Zeylmans and Jeff Evans. The Street Theatre Studio November 6 - 10 and 12 – 16, 1996, 6.30 and/or 9.30 pm. Professional.
This is a personal and public commentary by Joe Woodward designed to expose the sanctimonious hypocrisy of the Public Service. The manic stress-related breakdown of Bede Rashamon, knowing the truth of the inner sanctum of the Department of Spiritual Affirmation and doubting the reality of his role as Chief Overseer, is represented wonderfully in a jazz/rap fusion break dance - a mimed culmination of Woodward's acting skills.
Bede is "replaced by a younger woman", Chess Reason, played by Melinda Donnell with exactly the right degree of cold calculation. She is a singer of range and power; while Dirk Zeylmans van Emmichoven fades expertly in and out of a warm blues saxophone and the black role of Predator Kite, playing the Perseus myth - "the bird pecking at my torso, ripping into my innards". Chess has reached the bureaucratic peak because she can talk, but can she survive the secret knowledge - the real truth - known only to the inner circle?
Sanctimony is an exciting expressionistic work - humorous, satirical and sad. It's a script which still needs trimming, partly because it deals with many layers of ideas and the thread attenuates sometimes; and partly because the dramatic form needs clarifying, especially in the first half. It is a brave and worthwhile play because of the risks Woodward has taken. I saw the first night of new experimental theatre, mixing live acting, band and singer, with live and recorded video, a computer whose typist was not allowed to see the secret material on the screen, and brief but significant audience participation.
No wonder the focus was fuzzy for a while, but in the end the message comes through: "Be honest with yourself, lest others be honest for you." Even I come in for a slice from the razor gang: "Who are these critics - these self-appointed guardians of our lives?" Well, this critic says "Go and see for yourself. You'll arrive sanctimonious, but you'll leave a better person." After all what more could you ask from good theatre?© Frank McKone M.A., F.A.C.E.
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