WINDY CITY TIMES
||Theater: Oh Holy Allen Ginsberg ...
This article shared 3090 times since Wed Mar 29, 2006
Playwright: Nicholas A. Patricca
At: Bailiwick Repertory
Phone: ( 773 ) 883-1090; $25
Runs through: April 30
BY MARY SHEN BARNIDGE
'Life is so interesting. It must be the handiwork of a mad poet,' remarks the English lit professor suddenly confronted with all his dreams come true. His assessment is accurate. Who would ever have expected a play with such an ecstatic title to be so intellectually satisfying? Must be the work of a mad playwright, huh?
But it is not Allen Ginsberg's Dionysic celebration of Bodies Electric that permeates Nicholas Patricca's brainy romantic comedy—no, that's not an oxymoron—so much as it is the delicate tension found in the verse of Gerard Manley Hopkins, the Victorian homosexual Jesuit priest poet. Unsurprisingly, our play is populated with literary enthusiasts—the aforementioned academic, a sybaritic performance poet, a dying dramatist and, most significantly, a gay HIV-positive priest torn between duty to his church and the very human affection he pours into his own poems. With the assistance of a peppery housekeeper, a pragmatic monsignor and a disillusioned doctor, however, love conquers all—WITHOUT compromising its theological dimensions—to bring everyone to a happy resolution.
Premiering in 1993, Patricca's text has been updated to include cell phones, e-mail, crystal meth and—inevitably—the ongoing scandal surrounding pedophilia among the clergy ( though the Melrose café and St. Sebastian's parish still provide the setting for much of the play's action ) . Under David Zak's expert direction, a likewise intuitive cast led by Danne W. Taylor as the ambivalent Father Gerry Gallagher navigate Patricca's scholarly discussions—among them, the 'vow of friendship' sworn by 11th-century monks and the distinction between celibacy and chastity—with sensitive insight while never sacrificing the humor inherent in their contradictions.
The play, scheduled to appear at the Dublin International Gay Theatre Festival later in the spring, is not yet entirely finished. The identity of the characters and their relationships to one another need to be established sooner, and potentially-confusing references to extraneous personnel reduced. At the preview production I attended, however, the foundation for an answer to the conflicts of love viewed as a problem versus love embraced as a joy was already in evidence.
This article shared 3090 times since Wed Mar 29, 2006
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