Chris Castellano reviews Prophesy at the 2018 Fresh Fruit Festival
I had the opportunity to see the world premier of the show Prophesy by Karl Hinze on July 9th, as part of the Fresh Fruit Festival, staged at The Wild Project.
Prophesy is a powerful piece that had multiple layers of story, and conflicting themes being told in a tapestry that kept me engaged throughout the 85 minute performance. The conflict between teenage concerns and ‘adult’ concerns was a strong resonance for me. The students care about who’s got a crush on who, and the adults care more about what effect the things happening to these kids can have on their lives, and the lives of people around them.
Ben Lorenz as Mr. Teeson was particularly excellent, giving me an engaging and believable performance. He portrays a young professional who’s still trying to figure out who they are, while teaching young people who are just starting to encounter the same issues. You could practically feel him being pulled apart by this young man who’s stirred his passions for the first time in his life. Multiple times he mentioned he was only a few years older than the other characters, giving a sense of exasperation at being expected to have the answers.
Connor Johnston as Mark was a solid performance that unfortunately didn’t have the force to pull off some of the climactic moments of the piece. When the scene was quiet, or involved just the teenage characters, it was really effective. Still, there was a genuine quality to Johnston’s performance, and I was drawn in by the character most of the time.
Artem Kreimer as Joe was a welcome breath of levity in most situations. I have to admit, the fact that he was always eating something in most of his appearances was smirk-worthy, and worked well. The character’s dialogue was peppered with wry observations which Kreimer capitalized on well.
Finn, played by Alton Alburo, was an excellent choice; giving a strong note of grounding to an otherwise difficult piece, thematically. He was a reminder that no matter how fantastical or otherworldly the story was, this was a story about teenagers. Teenagers care about relationships, hanging out, and who they have a crush on; Finn was a constant reminder of those themes.
The staging of the show was effective and well done. The use of simple props and back projection really gave me a sense of a different place when it was used. I remember being struck at the illusion of depth from just a progression of stained glass panels backlit across the wall, and the slant of the table and chairs. The stage was well utilized, and the sets never felt in the way. The use of spots downstage gave somewhere to draw the eye during scene transitions, while giving us some insight into the characters at the same time.
Sound and lighting were key to the success of this piece’s most striking moments. Without giving too much away, the ‘centerpiece’ effect of Mark’s particular concern was chilling, and even when I expected it the second time, took me by surprise. I got both times, and I remember being reminded of the feeling I got when I watched certain scenes from Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
The story itself was interesting, but I personally wish there had been more of a resolution. The story begins, very interesting things happen…and then it’s over. It’s realistic, but unsatisfying to some degree. I’m not sure if I was supposed to find the relationships between the characters as interesting as the potential for actual religious ecstasy; but it didn’t quite get there. Every relationship was genuine, but had difficulty standing up when compared to libido-fueled religious fervor.
My metric for a show being view-worthy is always “would I recommend this to someone who I know enjoys good theater,” and I would recommend you see Prophesy if you get a chance. Every moment was intentional, and felt polished. The writing was clever, and solid. There are two more showings on Friday July 13th at 6:30 pm and Sunday July 15th at 7:00 pm.