…Apocalypse…, WNEP Theater Foundation, Victory Gardens Theater. With only 50-odd shopping days before the end of the millennium, it was inevitable that the Four Horsemen would find their way onstage. Fortunately they’ve arrived courtesy of WNEP’s tremendously gifted Jen Ellison, Seth Fisher, and Don Hall. In their satiric version of the end of the world, Jesus comes down not to launch Armageddon but to rebel against it, taking a job as a bartender. Among those sent to find Him are the other three horsemen–Jesus is the first, and War, Famine, and Death complete the foursome–and a waitress. In their quest, the three Horsemen leave ominous imprints–most notably War (Pat Carton) in the form of a red-suited, big-toothed Tony Robbins-style huckster who starts by preaching self-empowerment and ends up delivering a vicious tirade against the whole fat, naive, TV-brain-dead, overpopulating human race.
WNEP’s work is solidly rooted in improvisation, arguably the most direct route to fresh insights and authentic dialogue. But where less mature playwrights present their impromptu material in its raw form, often resulting in disconnected thoughts held together by cheap gags, this group demonstrates a rare talent for shaping spontaneous sparks of truth into palpable, fluid, provocative drama. People who believe in the power of theater to shape minds and societies should flock to this visionary fable. Those seeking escapist entertainment, beware: this ain’t no Jesus Christ Superstar. –Kim Wilson