Qadishtu (Sanctified Women) | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Qadishtu (Sanctified Women)

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Qadishtu (Sanctified Women), Still Point Theatre Collective, at the Lunar Cabaret. Combining her personal narrative with that of Mary Magdalene, playwright-performer Anita Stenger Dacanay unifies theater and religious ceremony. This 75-minute piece involves the audience in readings, sharing of food ("the flesh and fluid of the goddess"), and blessings. The problem is that these moments of ministry (with the exception of the final foot cleansing) are handled too casually. Stenger Dacanay operates lights, works a slide projector, puts out props, and adds costume elements with a similar offhandedness. And there's little urgency in her portrayals of the two roles.

The piece offers glimpses of Stenger Dacanay's versatility and conviction, but she doesn't really invest herself until midway through, when she throws her Bible to the ground and declares, "This is not a god of love." In an angry, bitter scene about "the genocide of women," she and director Annalise Raziq finally give Qadishtu some drama. But Stenger Decanay's consideration of Mary Magdalene's place in history and insights into the role of women in Christianity are too little, too late. Addressing the portrayal of Mary Magdalene in passion plays, in early paintings that often depicted her nude, and in film, Stenger Dacanay is quite entertaining. But more of the fiery and funny would have invigorated the show.

--Jenn Goddu

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