Before God Was Invented
nytheatre.com review by Leslie Bramm
March 25, 2011
Man lives in man cave and brings the meat. Woman lives in woman cave and supplies the flowers and fruit. On occasion they meet, drink from a magic cup, and engage in a bacchanal. Rarely does the twain connect for any other reason. Until that one fateful day when evolution happens and everything changes.
Foomalik is the old warrior leader of the males' clan. God speaks to him and forces a new set of rules onto the clan, pretty much throwing a wet blanket onto the idea of orgies, wasting your seed on another man, drinking from the magic cup, and worshipping Mother Earth. Everything that must have made Neanderthal life worth living. Basically God finds Foomalik and turns him into a prehistoric Republican. Foomalik’s trip to the mountain top does serve to bind the male and female clans together, unites their powers, and sets them off on an adventure to get their piece of paradise back in order. Murder, seduction, and intrigue follow.
In Before God Was Invented, writer-director-lyricist Lissa Moira seems to be showing us what happens when we lose contact with our primal minds. Our connection to the “mother” is in our marrow, and monotheism flies in the face of all logic.
The actors deserve kudos for learning text that is more cave-lingo than Queen’s English, and being able to sustain it for such a long period of time. Stand-out performances were given by Andrew Greer as Ramia, the young warrior with leadership thrust upon him; Chelsey Clime as Llyria, as much for her beautiful singing voice as acting skills; Tjasa Ferme as Jaimony, warrior goddess; and David “Zen” Mansley as Foomalik, the leader of the man clan.
There is a fire dance in the middle of the play where the characters not only tell the tale of the hunt, but are maybe also showing the slaughter of a natural way of being.
The set design, by Mansley as well, is fantastic—complete with tropical arches, and a cave big enough to sleep two men. Four different people are given credit for creating the music, though oddly most of it was played live on a drum.
The masks were designed by Lytza R. Colon. They are works of art in their own right. She did the props as well with equal care and skill.
At almost two and a half hours this inchoate endeavor lives up to its original idea, but lacks a cohesive dramatic arc, and one clear, defining moment. There were several points where the play could have climaxed, but it kept going on. The “we are the world” moment at the end felt added on to give the evening a sense of closure that the text should have provided.