There are good reasons why a 500 year old morality play still has relevance in 2017. "Everyman" was a popular Morality Play in the 15th and 16th centuries. It is a genre that was descended from the Mystery Plays of the Middle Ages. In these plays, various moral attributes would be personified and would confront the protagonist, Everyman, to convince him to live a godly life. There was a recent New York production of a modern adaptation, written by acclaimed playwright Branden Jacob-Jenkins, and entitled "Everybody." Scottish Playwright Carol Ann Duffy has also taken this ancient allegory and modernized it using her unique voice. This is the production that is coming up to its final weekend by Apollinaire Theatre Company in Chelsea. I strongly suggest you try to see it this Friday or Saturday at 8:00.
Director Danielle Fauteux Jacques gets the most out of this energetic cast of 10 actors, many of whom play multiple roles. Leading the pack as Everyman is the excellent Armando Rivera, who takes the audience along on Everyman's journey in figuring out how to confront Death and face his judgment before God. Ann Carpenter is wonderful as God, portrayed as a conscientious and pissed off janitor busy cleaning up the messes than mankind has made. Julee Antonellis is a revelation as Death personified, combining elements of Joan Jett and a Hells Angel biker. Ms. Antonellis clearly takes as much delight in this role as Death takes in tormenting Everyman. Dale J. Young is cooly avuncular as Knowledge, helping Everyman cope with his mounting disappointments. frustrations, and fears. Rounding out this fine cast are Charlotte Kinder, Miriela Lopez-Ponce, Evelyn Holley, Chelsea Evered, Emily Edstrom, and Micaela Kluver.
"Everyman" by Carol Ann Duffy
Apollinaire Theatre Company
Through May 6th
The Director was aided in Set Design by Marc Poirier. Costumes are by Susan Paino, Lighting by Christopher Bocchiaro, Sound Design by Lee Schuna. Original music was composed by Lee Schuna and Dan Whitelock.
The beauty of this play is that it addresses issues that are global - climate change, justice, consumerism - while also drilling deep into issues of personal morality - greed, lust, fidelity, empathy, respect for family. When Everyman realizes he needs to address personal failings, he asks for help in remembering a Prayer of Contrition from his youth. The ensemble joins him in singing a glorious "Deus Meus" composed by Dan Whitelock. It brought me to tears.
The play's call for societal repentance is so strong and compelling I would love to see it performed on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, and then have the cast march down Pennsylvania Avenue and repeat their performance on the South Lawn of the White House.
There remain only two performances. Do what you can to get to Chelsea this Friday or Saturday evening. Every Man and Every Woman will find something of value in this excellent production of a brilliant work of art that has stood the test of time.
Apollinaire Theatre Website