"The Bible in two hours" is the promotional hook used to draw audiences to The Big Picture, Brookstone Performing Arts' ambitious adaptation of the Good Book. The entertaining result might not be The Greatest Story Ever Told; it's more like The Fastest Story Ever Told.
Using movement, lighting, a delightfully terse script and imaginatively configured props and costumes, the show packs in dozens of stories. If you blink, you might miss one of them.
Writer/directors Tom Carson and Dennis Hassell employ theatrical shorthand to tell the tales, with some richly suggestive results. A red blanket can signify the slaughter of male children in the Moses story, for instance, and a churning wheel powerfully symbolizes the parting of the Red Sea.
The language ranges from pithy and succinct to banal, and the show -- despite the subject -- is not without intentional humour. Two characters meet, and a second later the woman finds herself pregnant. At times it's also poignant, as in the story of Joseph and his brothers.
The show's four actors (Blair Keyzer, Nette Plant, Tracy Thomas and Richard Peters) slip in and out of characters and costumes with ease. And Cam Tronson's lighting is as integral to the storytelling and mood as the script.
What's missing, especially given these postmodern times, is a more focused look at the repeated patterns and themes in the Bible, something that Anton Piatigorsky pointed out in his recent play The Offering, which looked at fathers and sons in the book of Genesis.
This could be done through staging. But it could also be done by carefully selecting which stories to tell.
Yes, the show clocks in at two hours, but it'd be better if there were more of an arc -- pardon the pun -- to the proceedings. GS
THE BIG PICTURE, written and directed by Tom Carson and Dennis Hassell, with Blair Keyzer, Nette Plant, Tracy Thomas and Richard Peters. Presented by Brookstone Performing Arts at Elmore's Hall (1881/2 Lowther). Runs to October 15, Wednesday-Saturday 8 pm, matinees Saturday-Sunday 2 pm. $19-$25, student discounts. 922- 1238. Rating: NNN