Review: Comic Mysteries


comic mysteries

I am not sure what I expected of Comic Mysteries, directed by Sami Ibrahim, but it certainly did not match up with the performance that greeted me as I entered the Burton Taylor Studio. Dripping wet with the rain that plagued my journey to the BT, I awaited the chance to sit down and enjoy an extremely positively-billed play, and on both counts I was disappointed; firstly because the audience had an active role in this piece, acting throughout as a receptive crowd that is supposed to stand and listen to whichever parable is being related or biblical event being parodied, and secondly because Comic Mysteries failed to even come close to the glittering expectation by which it was surrounded.

In essence, what should have been a collection of ridiculous or even critical renderings of the most well-known biblical stories was instead a loose fistful of somewhat unrelated stories from the Bible strung together by tacky live music and delivered without much conviction. The script seemed to lack a certain quality or degree of punchiness that is required to parody some of the most famous stories ever told, and the actors’ attempts to correct this were valiant but ultimately flat.

At its core, the play attempted to be funny by reducing the seriousness of these epic biblical tales down to the level of the common person or by showing lofty characters as individuals in contrast to their massive reputation. This is illustrated, for example, in Alex Tyndall’s committed portrayal of Pope Boniface, during which he complains about the size of his hat and flies into a rage when one of his subjects steps on his long cape; it’s all very predictable, and the actors, though physically among the audience, fail to engage them.  There were only five others in the audience on the night that I attended, and though this should work in the play’s favour – increasing the amount of individual contact and creating a more personal performance – it only served to highlight the possibility that the actors had not rehearsed with a live audience before.

Though the idea and structure of Comic Mysteries should be commended for bravery, this performance sadly falls short of expectation and fails to garner many laughs. One mystery that has been solved is what to watch this week: if you are in the mood for some biblical comedy, stick with Life of Brian, which is still more unpredictable even after the 20th viewing.


PHOTO / Betty Makharinsky


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