Most of the time the most obvious aspect of the theatre for its audience members is the reason why the artists felt compelled to share it. Often the answer is that the play has a good story, it’s easy to connect to, sometimes the piece is politically motivated or seeks to comment on an aspect of the human experience in a creative and original way. Divine Intervention, which plays at the Museum of Natural History as part of the Atlantic Fringe Festival is a new musical that doesn’t yet have a clear reason for being.
The conceit of the show is that humans have ruined the world and Greek Gods Apollo and Dionysos have come down to Earth to attempt to help us. Yet, instead of addressing concrete examples of how we have ruined the Earth and providing relevant solutions to these specific examples, Apollo and Dionysos spend fifty five minutes debating whether it is more prudent to be 100% focused on work, responsibility and seriousness all the time or whether it is more productive to be 100% creative, daydreaming and passionate all the time. To further help prove that they are able to handle the Earth’s current vague crisis, Apollo and Dionysos call on a string of witnesses, who either speak about times they were hardworking, or times when they relaxed, most of whom were born over two hundred years ago. There is also a character named Sophia who is awkwardly woven into the mix who finally comes to the realization that one can not be just diligent or just fun loving, but that in order to succeed one must do a mixture of both. The solution to the quandary that has been set up here is far too obvious to warrant a musical being built around it. It’s like writing a fifty five minute show about one plus one equalling two. Mentally, the audience is already at the end of the play moments after it has begun.
Dionysos and Apollo are much more complex in their values and their deeds than their representations here, as were all the witnesses, who are portrayed as mere shells of their Wikipedia entries. Divine Intervention would benefit from figuring out what it wants to say to its audience and why this message is important, and from grounding its characters in some three dimensional depth and specificity. That would, at least, given them a stronger foundation upon which to build their show.
Divine Intervention plays at the Museum of Natural History (1747 Summer Street) at the following times:
Tuesday September 8th at 6:45pm
Wednesday September 9th at 9:25pm
Thursday September 10th at 6:45pm
Saturday September 12th at 1:40pm.