Pacific Theatre
The Messiah

When & Where November 25 – December 17, 2022, Wed-Sat at 8pm, Sat at 2pm | Pacific Theatre, 1440 12th Ave W, Vancouver

Director Ian Farthing. Set and Costume Design Cecilia Vadala Lighting Design Chengyan Boon Sound Design Shona Struthers Properties Monica Emme Stage Manager Victoria Snashall

Cast John Voth, Peter Carlone, and Karen Ydenberg

Reviewer John Jane

The Messiah is Patrick Barlow's pythonesque spoof on the Nativity as performed by John Voth, Peter Carlone, and Karen Ydenberg. Voth and Carlone take their own given names into this two act comedy sketch, with opera singer Ydenberg lending her classically trained voice to the peripheral role of old fashioned diva, Mrs. Iris Foster.

Much of the humour is generated from Voth’s overly earnest narration, Carlone’s nuanced delivery of malapropisms and the pair’s combined silly slapstick. Karen Ydenberg certainly holds her own with some excellent physical comedy, but alas, her character never quite feels integral with the show’s objective.

Patrick Barlow's play and Ian Farthing’s direction of it, is by and large reverent to the essential Christian theme. Although, there’s a point in the second half where it almost descends into pantomime, when the audience is called upon to participate in responding to word prompts and even more so, when John Voth feigns pulling out of the show.

Ian Farthing lets the actors to determine the pace of the show, and allows for local inferences. Cecilia Vadala’s purposeful set consists essentially of a red curtain inside a faux Roman-styled proscenium, while her costumes are limited to headwear. Chengyan Boon’s lighting and Shona Struthers’ sound contribute qualitative depth to the production.

While the show may not fit everyone’s expectations of a Nativity play, there is much to enjoy in this romp. John Voth and Peter Carlone seem to realize that satirizing serious historic events with worthy intentions is fine.

© 2022 John Jane