note: entire contents copyright 2002 by Larry Stark
Production & Graphic Design by Nic Ularu
Lighting by Kathy Couch
Dance/Music Consultant Richard Colton
Angel/Lab Costumes Created by Karen Dolmanisth
Furniture Design by Crystal Tiala
Angel/Faust II, Old Couple
Angel/Wagner/Lucifer/Helen of Troy
Their actual name is THE PILGRIM THEATRE RESEARCH AND PERFORMANCE COLLABORATIVE, and every word has weight. All of them seem to be professors or teachers, often in non-theatrical fields. They are all very physical actors, and their works reach for a total theater that can spread out in a row through the tiny Leland space ("The House Not Touched by Death") or fill the entire huge Cyclorama ("The Tibetan Book of The Dead") with spectacle that plays with space as though they were a dance company. They are always culturally and mythologically eclectic, with texts that are as fluid as ideas, and they tackle big subjects. Their new world premiere is "Faust 2002".
The show starts with songs --- blue-grass folk music, sung to a ringing banjo --- and then a long, ringing monologue by Court Dorsey (playing Mephistopheles) high on a monkey-bar workman's tower on wheels --- one of a pair that reappear and move through the big Cyclorama space during the show. That's only the first of what they call "Seven Deadly Scenes" that pick up bits of the Faust legend from several sources. Faust (mostly Susan Thompson) has doctorates in law and medicine and philosophy and toys with alchemy, but it's essentially boredom that prompts him to make that famous bargain --- in this case to get whatever he wants, but to forfeit his soul if, at any moment, he finds himself asking for that particular moment to prolong or to return.
But that's merely one of a shimmer of fascinating plot-ideas that the Pilgrim people toy with --- including a stock-bubble for Faust Inc., a tragic, destructive love for a poor girl named Gretchen (Monica Gomi), building a synthetic person with his science buddy Wagner (Chris Crowley), and a twin-Faust mirror-figure (Kermit Dunkelberg) that allows the hero both male and female aspects and allows them to converse. This summary will make little sense, because many of the swelling and merging ideas Pilgrim works with are much more evocative than specific.
Nonetheless, they deal in spectacular theater on serious subjects like no other company in Boston, and their performances should never be missed.