The Fifth Horseman, at Cafe Voltaire. The night I saw William Barker’s one-man show, the power had gone out in Lakeview. But Cafe Voltaire remained open, and the writer-performer decided to go on with the show, using candlelight instead of his planned lighting. This made the Voltaire basement seem all the more medieval, an effect that actually suited The Fifth Horseman, which is about a rather depressive, self-hating young man who speaks to us from heaven. It turns out that the eternal life he encounters after crashing his parents’ car is causing him just as much angst as life on earth did; the young man even reports that the sprawling nature of heaven creates vertigo and nausea among many.
Barker has the comic timing and inflections of a young, Catholic Woody Allen, and his play, broken into five scenes, contains some raw, bitingly humorous notions about the nature of God. But the piece has almost no action, and the talking spans nearly an hour and a half. The journey on which Barker takes us–from deception to truth–needs some basic direction and some editing before his insights will really come through. Still, his decision to go on with the show that night reveals his faith in the piece.
–Gabrielle S. Kaplan