You might recall that I went up to New Haven a year and half ago to see an highly praised production of a new play by Sarah Ruhl called Passion Play, thinking it might be of use for the Religion & Theater class. I was not amused. Well, I had a chance to see it again tonight as it gets its New York premiere - indeed, to be part of an after show discussion with my Religion & Theater coteacher C. The play's the same (though it's now being called Sarah Ruhl's Passion Play), and the director, but something about the venue (the Irondale Center, in a half-converted church hall in Brooklyn), a lower budget production and a very winsome cast made me enjoy it a lot more. I'm still a little miffed that every kind of stage magic happens (characters with supernatural powers, prophecy, reincarnation, the uncanny survival across time and place of gestures, interactions and poetic snibbets of text, the haunting of the present by figures of the past - and a parade of fish) except the one you might expect from the play's name: participation in the passion narrative has no discernible effect on anyone - unless it's to make people more likely to act against the role they play (but Ruhl has bigger fish to fry than hypocrisy). However I was prepared for it this time, and so was able to appreciate and enjoy the opulently rich theatrical world Ruhl is able to create, layered and resonant if not always clear. And in a converted church hall, it feels like an outgrowth and outgrowing of religious theater, not a mockery of it. I guess I liked it!
are from the program.)