Accidental Rapture, Visions & Voices Theatre Company, at Chicago Dramatists. Playwright Eric Pfeffinger lands a pair of liberals in the home of a Bible-thumping couple and lets the sparks fly. The first act--a festival of acid dialogue--recalls a quip by essayist Thomas Carlyle that if Jesus Christ were to return today, people "would ask him to dinner, and hear what he had to say, and make fun of it." In the play's most gleeful exchange, the two skeptical academics present their creationist hosts with a baby blanket adorned with dinosaurs.
But by the second act, the playwright's conscience seems to get the better of him and he does a dramatic about-face, offering a more humane portrayal of his easy Christian targets. It's a shame, really: Judgment Day arrives, the oppositions between the two couples are flattened, and Pfeffinger abandons the satiric tone of the blistering first act.
Director Rick DesRochers massages Pfeffinger's flawed play into a simple character study. All the performances are good, but Cristin McAlister and Gerrit O'Neill are to be commended for coaxing a sweet soulfulness from the difficult roles of the cultishly devoted Christian couple. Still, as Accidental Rapture marches into its needlessly dramatic second act, one wonders about the play's purpose. Pfeffinger's muddy conclusions suggest a crisis of faith, but fortunately DesRochers and his cast make you believe in the production.