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To and Fro and Up and Down (Review)

By Julie York Coppens · June 4th, 2011 · Fringe
1 Comment

A Fringe Festival without at least three Biblical satires? Blasphemy!

But the little devils have come through again this year, thank heaven, so there’s no shortage of sacrilege on display. In a crowded field, Kleesattel Productions’ To and Fro and Up and Down — the show’s title comes from an actual Bible passage describing Satan as a kind of Rick Steves to the damned — stands out as a thinking person’s travesty. More graduate-level seminar than South Park episode, it hovers at the quieter, more thoughtful end of the religious-lampoon spectrum. Although Adam does show up wearing tightie-whities with a strategically placed leaf appliqué.

And did you know that the decadent pleasures of Eden included cheetah cake, panda boxing (cuter than a cockfight but just as action-packed!), and a swimming pool filled with pudding?

The revelations in Benjamin Kleesattel’s smart but occasionally indulgent script aren’t all for laughs. As our seminar leader (aka The Prince of Darkness), Dain Alan Paige expresses true, deeply felt regret over his falling-out with God, and tips us off to some scriptural details our Sunday school teachers might have overlooked.

This calm, contemplative Satan in a tweed jacket also challenges his guests (particularly Job and Jesus Christ) with some legitimate questions: How many innocent lives were taken under Yahweh’s banner? At what point does devotion become madness? Does God even care?

The are, of course, thousands of pages of source material left unexplored, and yet at 50 minutes, To and Fro feels long. Director Gina Kleesattel might tighten the pacing and commit more fully to the “Bible studies with the Devil” concept. We should have classroom rather than theatrical lighting, for instance. And handouts. But no PowerPoint presentation. Even the enemy of righteousness has his limits.



06.05.2011 at 10:57 Reply
To and Fro and Up and Down my rating: 3 out of 4* This was a straight ahead tale told by Satan to clarify for us his three brief appearances in the Bible (yes, despite all the hype, he is only mentioned three times in the whole 66 books of the Bible.) To help him tell his tales, he is joined by Adam, Eve, the Snake, then Job and Job's wife, then Jesus. It is a theologically accurate but hilarious and thoughtful, though, I would guess, irreligious telling. Be warned. The published length for this piece is 35 minutes, but the actual run time is 45 minutes. Although this meant we missed our next show, we had no regrets. They had my attention from start to finish. Satan certainly has poise and a silver tongue.