Off Broadway (and sometimes Broadway) Reviews and Information.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Job does Heavy Lifting at the Flea


Job, now playing at the Flea, is a reasonably accurate retelling of the biblical story of Job, from the Old Testament.  As such, it is not a laugh riot.  The adaptation by Thomas Bradshaw follows the trials of Job (played in full voice by Sean McIntyre) as he is tested in his love for God.
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Sean McIntyre, Adam Lebowitz-Lockard photo Hunter Canning

Job embellishes the backstory wherein Satan (the always excellent Stephen Stout) is given full reign to challenge Job’s fidelity to God, played by Ugo Chukwu.  In Thomas Bradshaw's version, God’s sons, Jesus and Dionysus, function as witnesses to the bet.  Grant Harrison and Eric Folks play the sons of God as bickering brothers, self absorbed and uninterested in human endeavors.  It is a funny diversion that pops up occasionally during the show.  And the diversion is necessary because Job has more than its share of tragedy.  The Gods are unconcerned with the humans, except as a reflection of themselves.
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Marie-Claire Roussel, Sean McIntyre    .
Job, a penitent and honorable man, with full faith in God is subject to tests that no mortal should have to endure.  One of Job's sons graphically kills and then rapes Job’s daughter.  His other son witnesses this and kills his brother and then himself.  Job’s wife, Cleo Gray bringing the inconsolable woman vividly to life, leaves him when he cannot renounce God.
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But for Satan and God, this isn’t proof enough of Job’s faithfulness; Satan is allowed to test him again – this time with physical pain.  Job’s eyes are gouged out and he is castrated by the same men he once sat in judgment of.  But still Job puts his faith in God.  Then his friends turn on him – he has lost all, his family, his wealth, his health and his friends, but he will not curse the Lord.
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Job does complain, he demands to know why this is happening.  And God ultimately appears to him, not so much out of love but because he is tired of the whining.  God doesn't answer Job's questions, he merely states that man cannot question such a being.  Ultimately God restores wealth, health, a large extended family and long life to Job.
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The moral of the Bible story is that sometimes bad things happen to good people and we cannot fully understand why, but Job is a long way to get there.  We know that Job suffered but did not forsake God.  However, in seeing the whole thing acted out – well, it is a little disconcerting.  What about the children who were driven to incest and murder for no reason but to test the father?  What about the wife, who renounced God after this happened to her family?
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And all this pain and suffering for a celestial bet?  I had to go back to my Bible to check this, and sure enough it is right there (Job 1:11).  Job is excellently acted, well put together and nicely paced (directed by Benjamin H. Kamine) but you don’t leave the theater all bright and cheery.

Job
Playwright: Thomas Bradshaw
Director: Benjamin H. Kamine
Cast: The Bats (including Sean McIntyre, Jennifer Tsay, Cleo Gray, Ugo Chukwu, Stephen Stout, Grant Harrison and Erik Folks)

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