Studio 58
Lot's Wife by James Fagan Tait and Itai Erdal

Dates and Venue 1 - 18 October 2009, 8pm | Studio 58, Langara College

Directors James Fagan Tait & Itai Erdal Set Design Naomi Sidert Costume Design Nancy Tait Lighting Design Itai Erdal Stage Manager Krysia Leskard

Reviewer Jane Penistan

Lot’s Wife is a new play by James Fagan Tait and Itai Erdal. This premiere presentation is directed jointly by the playwrights. The cooperation provides a very well written, well directed, entertaining, retelling of age old biblical stories. Lot, a nephew of Abraham, was told by angels to flee the wicked city of Sodom with his wife and daughters and the others of Abraham’s tribe before it was destroyed by “fire and brimstone.” The refugees were warned not to look back on the horrendous sight of the city’s destruction. Lot’s wife looked back and was turned into a pillar of salt. Lot and his daughters settled in Zoar, while Abraham and his wife Sarah journeyed further north in the valley of the Dead Sea.

The next stories are those of the birth of Ishmael and the banishment of Hagar and her son, and of the miraculous conception and birth of Isaac the son of Abraham and Sarah in their old age. Throughout Abraham is in communication with God whose orders he obeys.

The authors tell us that they have consulted various sources in researching this play. “Writings of Moses Malmonides (the Rambam) who interpreted the Bible in the 12th century as well as direct quotes from the Mishnah (3rd Century) and the Talmud (6th Century) and the first works of Rabbinic Judaism.” Abraham is the central figure of the play,” being the father of Judaism, Islam and Christianity, as well as the first monotheistic man." (Itai Erdal:Programme Notes).

The play is presented on an almost bare stage. Changes of venue are indicated by the excellent use of lighting and the use of properties carried on and off by the cast without halting the flow of the work. Costumes are Middle Eastern, subtly coloured to emphasise the characters of the cast and well managed by all the actors. The one costume which does not fit in this picture perfect collection is that of God. The modern Western business suit, the bowler hat and the horn rim spectacles which this important and powerful character wears are not compatible with this production. The point being made by this anachronism is surely to bring the figure of the Almighty into today’s business oriented North American scene. On the other hand, the magnificent gorgeous golden gown worn by J, the author of Genesis, is outstanding and completely compatible with the rest of the production. This figure is also cleverly used as a discreet screen in times of tactful privacy.

This company is a very competent one. All the actors play well together. The speech is clear, audible and intelligently delivered, particularly that of J, the author of Genesis (Melissa Dionisio), who also moved well.

The direction was impeccable in the staging, timing and movement of the large cast throughout the performance which maintained a pleasingly well paced production. Obviously everyone enjoyed this well researched, charming and scholarly, delightful new work.

© 2009 Jane Penistan