Guilty Pleasure

M. McDevitt REVIEW: Prophesy

prophesy1.jpg“Mark, Finn, and Joe are juniors at Holy Apostle High, where religion class is not quite as interesting as their various crushes on teachers and each other. But there are deeper secrets bubbling under the surface, and when the boys learn about Catholic Mystics, Mark wonders if that might explain the strange things he’s been seeing and hearing…”

One of the wonderful things about the Fresh Fruit Festival (indeed, with any of these very limited engagement runs) is they give a playwright the chance to see their work on its feet and find out what works (and doesn’t) in front of an audience. Karl Hinze’s Prophesy, which opened Fresh Fruit’s 16th season on July 9, has many things going for it: strong writing, terrific performances, a fast-paced production directed by Allan MacLeod, excellent lighting design by Keith Traux, and a top-notch sound design (uncredited) which adds immeasurably to the success of the evening.

And while much of Prophesy does work, there are a couple of places where Mr. Hinze might want to probe a little deeper; the motivations behind Mark’s (the intense Connor Johnson) mysticism and subsequent affair with his religion teacher Mr. Teeson (the equally intense Ben Lorenz) are called into question very late in the play and are only partially resolved in an unsatisfactory and unconvincing coda. Having been building up to a wham-bang, punched in the gut finale, the audience is left with too many questions for the almost slapdash final scene to address coherently, and the piece unfortunately fizzles out. In addition, in a story about brazenly open gay boys in a Catholic high school, with one of them seducing a teacher, there should be a stronger sense of peril, even in 2018; while there is much lip-service paid to Mark and Mr. Teeson’s feelings of guilt, there is no over-arching mood of danger to the proceedings. With all the sturm und drang attending Mark’s mysticism and his affair with Mr. Teeson, the 4-hander could benefit from an additional character – perhaps the school’s principal or parish pastor – a visible, omnipresent threat to both Mr. Teeson and his students.

All that being said, however, Prophesy is a promising new work; if it asks too many questions that aren’t answered satisfactorily, it does ask one to think. And these days, that’s probably the most important thing to ask of anyone.

Also featuring Alton Alburo (a charming Finn), and Artem Kreimer (who makes magic with Joe, the token straight boy.)

 

 

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