In a series of vignettes entitled “Ye Gods,” senior Kyle Shook exhibits his take on some of the Greek, Roman, Egyptian and Jewish gods we have studied and/or worshipped since we began eating from the Tree of Knowledge as toddlers in Sunday School or sixth-graders in Gifted Literature class (thanks Ms. Blanton). The sold-out show ran four nights in the Backdoor Theatre.
Our perceptions of religious and mythical scenes we thought we had grown accustomed to are briefly transformed with a quirky and hilarious approach that mixes imagination, intelligence, feminism and comedy.
For example, Eve (Alicia Landrum) is portrayed as a modern woman who cannot be confined to the ancient prototypes of women that are too often witnessed today. She is not satisfied serving her husband sandwiches when there are books to be read, experiments to be conducted or jazz to be heard. This third account of Genesis uses sarcasm to easily explain the “unintentional” origins of the first two accounts in a way that educated Mercerians can both laugh off and find a trace of truth in. As history shows us, ancient cultures must have missed Kyle’s cues and mistaken Adam’s (John Farrington) self-prescribed dominance over Eve for Yahweh’s handwriting, despite its being written on a gum wrapper.
A grumpy, fed-up-with-his-job and post-pubescent Cupid (Max Youngblood) only proceeds to help a strong-willed mortal, Psyche (Tory Johnson), find her one true love after being commanded by mommy Aphrodite. When the divinely inspired plan goes wrong because of Psyche’s retaliation against Cupid with his own love arrow, the two’s wrestling around on the ground turns from hate and loathing into lust and affection. But who hasn’t seen Max do that?
Lucifer (Suzanne Stroup) and Deus (Jan Jones) share an apartment, known to us as Heaven. Remember Satan being cast from Heaven because he was an evil liar? Think again. First off, they are both girls (duh). Lucifer is just a lazy, pot-smoking, slutty, broke couch potato of a roommate who Deus has had enough of. You know you wanted to do the same thing to your roommate freshman year, but they “could not be evicted because they have a contract with Housing and Residence Life” and “if there are any further concerns you should immediately inform your Resident Assistant.” God don’t put up with that.
The play culminated with a final statement on religion, with the last chapter, called “Risen.” In true Mercer fashion, it pushed boundaries. This last vignette takes place wholly in a basement, in which a motley crew of apocolypse survivors discuss their thinning options against an unstoppable horde at their threshold. This is where Shook really shines. The ending is too perfect for it to be spoiled here. Shook took a bite at some conventions, but he certainly has sharp teeth.
Only one important god was missing, however. Dionysus. The audience was tempted by two empty boxes of Lucifer’s Corona with not even a dry martini or glass of red wine to help wash down the zombie apocalypse of the first Easter Sunday. I don’t know about the plays you go to, but the best ones I have watched always had a bar in the lobby, which would also require us getting a lobby.
Overall, it was an excellent performance by each member of the cast and we can be sure to see great things to come in Kyle’s future.