The current production running at Boston Playwrights' Theatre is the provocative "The Atheist" by local playwright Ronan Noone. When he originally conceived the play, it was written to be performed by a solo male actor. In bringing the play up to the present time, Mr. Noone decided to re-imagine the play and cast the extraordinarily talented Georgia Lyman in the role of the Machiavellian journalist Augustine Early. What a brilliant creative decision! Ms. Lyman is chilling in her portrayal of this complex woman. She makes us care about a character who is patently unlikeable. That is great acting and impressive story telling.
|Georgia Lyman as Augustine Early|
"The Atheist" by Ronan Noone
Boston Playwrights' Theatre
Through February 5th
Written and directed by Ronan Noone.
Through February 5
"Augustine Early, a crooked journalist, has made an art of clawing her way up the professional ladder. When she turns a politician’s tawdry predilections into front-page news, the scandal threatens to undo the one person she thought was immune. A searing and hilarious play about the perfect headline, whatever the cost."
But this play is about so much more than the plot. It is a brilliant examination of multiple levels of themes, questions, and conundrums:
- What happens to a person when they abandon faith and decide that there is no God?
- The protagonist Augustine Early is the very embodiment of the truth that is spoken by Ivan Karamazov in Dostoevsky's masterpiece, "The Brothers Karamazov": "If there is no God, then everything is permitted."
- The journalist has nothing to limit her behavior other than her own imagination and willingness to take risks. She betrays everyone blocking her path to fame and fortune.
- In the absence of an absolute God, who calls the shots and acts as creator?
- It is clear that Augustine sets out to create her own success and to determine her own fate.
- The playwright's choice of her name is no accident. I was reminded of St. Augustine and his famous treatise"Confessions." In a sense, this play is the young journalist's confession about where her life has taken her.
- What role does the media play in this post-truth world we inhabit?
- Throughout the play, an iconic pixelated image of Walter Cronkite looms over the theater - reminding us of a time when we trusted him - and his co-anchors - like a God to tell us the truth and to provide a sense of context of what is happening in the world. Those days are long gone. This is no "alternative fact"!
- An over-arching theme is that of the need to be mad at what is happening in the world. We are reminded - through projected image and chalk scrawls on the wall - of the 1976 film "Network." Actor Peter Finch portrays a news anchor at the end of his rope. He rants: "I want you to get mad. I want you to get up and stick your head out of your window and scream: 'I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this any more!'"
- Noone is inviting us to have a similar response to the idiocy that is unravelling around us every day.
- Where do you turn when you have ejected God from your life, usurped his place of sovereignty, and everything begins to unravel?