Ambrosio | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Ambrosio, Great Beast Theater, at the Inner Town Pub. The final line in Romulus Linney's play about a priest struggling with evil is almost worth the price of admission: "I see the demons radiant and terrible; but you, my God, I cannot see at all." If only the rest of Ambrosio were that clear and elegant. Instead it's a meditation on the sin of pride (the title priest's confidence that God loves him) masquerading as a meditation on the sin of lust: the priest is tempted by pulchritude both male and female, and whenever things start to get boring, Linney introduces something phallic--a viper, a knife.

Though largely naturalistic, the play visits the supernatural long enough to muddy the waters: is that Don Pedro or the devil? And though no one expects a defense of the Spanish Inquisition, the priest's personal melodrama subsides every now and then and Linney dips into the Inquisition's political and theological controversies, including the devil's approbation of the work of Martin Luther and the claim that God and the devil are lovers (South Park fans take note).

Director Michelle Power can't manage to triumph over the material, and her actors mostly parody their roles: as the devil, Carl Occhipinti laughs by going "brah-hah-hah." Most damning (sorry) is the lack of sexual energy in a play ostensibly about lust: as the temptress Antonia, Jillian Erickson brings plenty of sexual power to her monologue about being raped, but her encounters with Jeremy Johnston's Ambrosio are eros free.

--Kelly Kleiman

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