Theatre of Absolution
Real time drama ‘The Messenger’ opening in Duryea
Most of us don’t know how much time we have (or don’t have) left in this lifetime to make amends for our mistakes. Procrastination is nevertheless popular. Without some intervention, it seems, we’d rather take our chances than face the truth of our own human fragility.
In Paul Kodiak’s The Messenger, Jimmy has succeeded in such procrastination, if at nothing else in life. A very literal clock on the wall ticks audibly as an impassioned priest pleads with this death row inmate to confess his sins. But the notoriously tight-lipped convict is reluctant to reveal the ugliest corners of his soul to this human priest who, as a human, necessarily must bear his own imperfections of mind and deed.
A finalist in The Worthington Players 2011 Shawnee Original Playwright Series (SOPS) competition, the emotional drama was last seen in the region in Jan. 2012. Actor Dante Giammarco, who portrays Father Michael Keating, initiated a new production of The Messenger set to run at the Phoenix Performing Arts Centre Nov. 9 through Nov. 18 with shows Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and on Sundays at 2 p.m. A preview performance will be offered Thursday, Nov. 8. J Domenic DeMuro co-stars in the Jonah Productions presentation as Jimmy with James Caceres as Angel, a prison guard. Giammarco is also directing the production.
“Jimmy, I can feel these walls – they’ve moving in on us. Unless you say something pretty quick, we’re going to be crushed,” Giammarco as The Rev. Keating entreats in the second of three video trailers for the production. Vaguely suggestive and darkly lit, the moody clips were directed by DeMuro with assistance from Jer Tobin for Woodavic Studios, and can be viewed on Vimeo or the show’s Facebook event page.
“As these men fight their own personal demons with time running out, all under the eagle eye of a clock-watching guard, the audience will find that redemption from sin often comes from the unlikeliest of places,” a promotion for the play suggests. Stones are perhaps best left at home.
Kodiak’s first drafts of The Messenger were developed with the help of readings at Polaris North, a New York-based cooperative group of actors, directors and playwrights in the early 1990s. It was submitted to the SOPS after subsequent revisions. A former resident of East Stroudsburg, the playwright studied at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts and East Stroudsburg University and later Hunter College. He has also been associated with The Actor’s Studio and most recently Selkie (www.selkietheatre.org) Theatre Company in Bethlehem. The politically progressive company’s dedication to “discovering the new, the original, the provocative, and the powerful in American and world theatre” includes a Selkie Seisiúns play reading and development series for playwrights, actors, and artists. Kodiak saw his play his play Gettin’ Out on the Green shared at Shawnee Playhouse in 2012.