Fourth Monkey's Genesis and Revelation: Ascension Part 1
Incoherent and melodramatic rewrite of the apocalypse
This article is from 2016.
Despite claiming to rewrite biblical stories for a secular age, Fourth Monkey's Ascension Part 1 is trapped in a universe of metaphysical and religious speculation. The four horseman of the apocalypse hike in and out of the action, demons howl and even the blessed virgin Mary and Jezebel make guest appearances. Using the Book of Revelation as a source only encourages a wild spiritual journey, and Fourth Monkey can't resist the lure.
Unfortunately, the wildness degenerates rapidly into noise and confusion. The metaphysics struggle to cohere: a moving image of the world as a circus with no aerialists or MC suggests absurdism, before God thunders over His naughty creation a scene later. Variously Manichaean, Beckettian and Christian, the world of Ascension is unstable, undermining the purpose of the hero, John, who is tasked to chronicle the chaos.
The script is overwrought, encouraging melodramatic performances from the ensemble: strong images are submerged beneath unnecessary physical theatre. There is a bold attempt to describe a world in chaos, but the limited references to anything beyond the play's world leaves its relevance vague.
Individual performances shine within the whole, and the scene of clowns is affecting, cohering the vision of a godless universe with the anxiety of the men who refuse to mature. The characters lining the exit after the play's finale hint at another work, that allowed the visual imagination to triumph over a frantic expressionism.
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