Monday, June 02, 2014

Way Out on the Outer Fringe of Boston Theater - Heart & Dagger Presents "Jesus" by Charles Mee

Heat & Dagger Productions was founded in 2010 to innovate classic plays and stories with elements of modern dance, contemporary house music, and gender-bending - all under the guidance of Artistic Director, Joey C. Pelletier.

In keeping with that tradition, this production by Heart & Dagger probes the subject of sex with a full length production as well as a strange and haunting performance art piece by Charles Mee with supplementary material by Silvia Graziano and Lizette Morris.

"Unlike the shorts, which are more narrative, this experimental piece really bares the Heart & Dagger look," says Pellitier.  "Stylistic and full of movement, it's shocking and in your face.  It features all the awful things an audience can imagine and ends with a prayer. "“Something about the feelings I'm asking these actors to play," continues Pellitier, "is just too raw, too – for lack of a better word – ‘naked’ for the average actor to handle. It takes a special kind of performer to do plays like this. I gave the roles to people who wouldn’t be scared of the material… or people who were incredibly hot."

To bring this vision to fruition, Pelletier has recruited an exceptionally and consistently brilliant troupe of actors.  There is nothing gratuitous about the desires that are portrayed and frankly discussed.  What struck me about the Mee-Morris-Graziano pastiche, in addition to the fine acting, was the co-mingling of portrayal of sexual violence and aberration and the violence and destructiveness of war.  Primal urges and emotions are on display at both ends of the play's narrative spectrum.

It may be instructive to hear Mr. Mee talk about his work:

"So I try in my work to get past traditional forms of psychological realism, to bring into the frame of the plays material from history, philosophy, insanity, inattention, disconnectedness, judicial theory, sudden violent passion, lyricism, the National Enquirer, nostalgia, longing, aspiration, literary criticism, anguish, confusion, inability.

I like plays that are not too neat, too finished, too presentable. My plays are broken, jagged, filled with sharp edges, filled with things that take sudden turns, careen into each other, smash up, veer off in sickening turns. That feels good to me. It feels like my life. It feels like the world.

And then I like to put this—with some sense of struggle remaining—into a classical form, a Greek form, or a beautiful dance theatre piece, or some other effort at civilization."

—Chuck Mee

The fine actors in this ensemble, who shall be praised as a group and not singled out, include:

  • Jacob Athyal
  • Julia Bailey
  • Mike Budwey
  • Diego Buscaglia
  • Mikey DiLoreto
  • Renee Donlon
  • Jacqui Dupre
  • Brett Milanowski
  • Jesse James Wood
  • Erin Rae Zalaski

"Jesus" is running in Repertory with "Safeword" as part of Heart & Dagger's "SexFest II" through June 14.

Heart and Dagger Productions Website

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