Anything but Immediate.
Mark, the evangelist, was one of 70 Disciples of Christ and the founder and later Bishop of the Church of Alexandria in Egypt. Twenty-five years after Jesus’ death in 30 AD, he wrote down, presumably in Greek, the oral stories and legends about His life, which we know today as the Gospel according to Mark. Since his Gospels were the first ones to be written down, they are considered the most direct, best-written, with a coherent plot and the most dramatic.
Unfortunately, the theatricality of Mark’s version of the Bible, did not make it through the final cut in Taproot’s Production of The Mark of Immediacy, directed by Nathan Jeffrey, which opened on the Friday before Palm Sunday.
Using a narrative-theatre style and three actors, Tom Dewey, Eric Hampton and Melanie Hampton, dressed in casual modern dress, the “play” recounted, in spoken narrative and some dialogue, various scenes from Mark’s version of the Bible. For a show opening, on the weekend when Holy Week starts, I found it odd that the events, which Christians ritualize every year, that of Lent and Palm Sunday, were left out.
Without a set, props, costumes, the text and acting were not enough to carry the show. Lacking solemnity, some scenes disintegrated to the level of a soap-opera. With nothing to delineate the different scenes, it was difficult to follow. Also for narrative theatre to be successful, it is generally better to have one actor speak the omniscient narrator’s lines and another the character’s dialogue, in this production, the actor himself spoke the narration and the dialogue, which affected the pacing negatively.
Spiritual experiences demand heightened language, especially when there is the heightened reality of supernatural experiences, such as miracles, or a carpenter’s son deifying himself. Using an uninspiring translation did not help the audience to connect with the profound spiritual message portrayed on stage. The King James Bible, written during Shakespeare’s time, uses the same kind of heightened language which Shakespeare, or Martin Luther King, used to express heightened emotions and spirituality. Perhaps it would have been a better choice.
Mark of Immediacy. Isaac Studio Theatre. Taproot Theatre. 204 N. 85th St. Seattle, WA 98103 ( Greenwood and 85th) Thurs Fri & Sat 8 pm April 11, 12, 17, 18, 19Tickets (206) 781-9705. www. taproottheatre.org