Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Pilgrims Progress on 24th Street

Courtesy photo.

Inspired by John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress, a seventeenth-century literary classic, One Way Productions of Sacramento has taken on the challenging task of converting allegory into drama. The work in question, an “allegory of ideas,” personifies character abstractions by treating them as people. In Bunyan’s story, for instance, we get Mercy, Love and Joy embodied as people. The pitfall is that, as drama, the characters become oversimplifications, challenging Coleridge’s “willful suspension of disbelief.” In contemporary terms, they seem “phoney.”

With Lynne Cimorelli’s original music, Ingrid Laurentiis-Wilson has done a remarkable job as playwright, director and choreographer. The production holds our attention and maintains our sympathy, in spite of its fundamentalist subtext. The play, like its model, rides on the assumption that salvation is the reward of those who interpret the Bible literally, rather than accepting a wide range of meanings. Beginning in the early nineteenth century, Unitarian theologians like William Ellery Channing made broad religious interpretations acceptable in polite society.

To its credit, One Way Productions offers an instructive and entertaining experience to audiences that include a wide range of beliefs. Led by Taila Viaovich, 17, as Christiana (female equivalent of the original “Christian”), the cast includes a large contingent of home-schooled youngsters, performing with skill and verve that have earned enthusiastic audiences.

Remaining production dates and details are Friday, April 9, at 7:00 p.m.; Saturday, April 10, at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.

Advance tickets may be purchased for $9.00 (adults), $8.00 (seniors and military), 7.00 (groups of 10 or more), and $5.00 (children 12 and under). To order tickets in advance, contact One Way Productions at info@1wayproductions.org, or call (530) 676-8858. Ticket prices at the door are $14.00 (adults), $11.00 (seniors and military) and $8.00 (children 12 and under).

All performances will be held at the 24th Street Theatre in Sacramento. Go to: www.Sierra2.org for directions.

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