a poignant presentation of the mystery of death
By Fred Sherwin
Shanali Dias as Everyman is joined by Knowledge (left), played by Laura Elgee,
and Good Deeds, played by Claire Hogan, as he's about to be accepted into the
Kingdom of Heaven. Fred Sherwin/Photo
ready for your own death? If you're like most people you likely don't spend a
lot of time worrying about your potential demise and what awaits on the other
side. After all, today most people live well into their 80s and even their 90s.
in 16th century medieval Europe, worrying about one's death and the hereafter
was a constant occupation for some. And considering the average life expectancy
at the time was about 36 and Christianity was flourishing, it's little wonder
people spent an inordinate amount of time worrying about the final resting place
of their everlasting soul.
just in case their minds and bodies were otherwise occupied committing one or
more of the seven deadly sins, they were constantly reminded of the dilemma that
awaits during Sunday mass or through travelling troupes of players who would put
on morality plays in villages and towns throughout the countryside.
of the more famous morality plays of the time is called "The Moral Play of
Everyman", better known simply as "Everyman". The play is being
presented by the Orleans Young Players' Classical Class this weekend at the Orléans
is a play about every man's ultimate end and their eventual passage to Heaven
the beginning, Everyman is visited by Death who summons him to a reckoning with
God. Before his
audience, however, he must fill out his book of account with the various good
and bad deeds he undertook throughout his life.
of the first half of the play is spent on the psychological journey Everyman must
take as he comes to grips with the fact that death is a lonely path.
by one he is abandoned by Fellowship, Kinship, and Goods and Riches, each portrayed
by a character in the play the moral being that each is merely lent to
us while we abide among the living.
one point Everyman curses his Goods, saying, "O false Goods, cursed thou
be! Thou traitor to God, that hast deceived me, and caught me in thy snare."
Everyman turns to his Good Deeds in hope that they may earn him entry into the
heavenly kingdom. Good Deeds, however, is born down by Everyman's sins and cannot
therefore go with him.
Good Deeds introduces Everyman to her sister Knowledge, who takes him to Confession
so that he may be cleansed of his sins and wrapped in a robe of penance so that
his Good Deeds may rise to the fore.
with Knowledge and his Good Deeds, Everyman summons Discretion, Strength, Beauty
and Five-wits for the final stage of his life's journey. But when they come to
realize that they will all be consumed in the ground as he will be, they too forsake
him one by one until only his Good Deeds remain.
the end, Everyman realizes that those things he valued most in life are but trivialities
example, all ye that do hear or see, how they that I loved best do forsake me,
except my Good Deeds that bideth truly," states Everyman.
the final moment of reckoning comes Everyman is welcomed into the Kingdom of Heaven
by an angel sent to greet him.
the dialogue is sometimes hard to follow, the moral of the play is quite clear
and easily understood. That likely has a great deal to do with the performances
of the players, which are all top notch. Jennifer Kearney turned in an especially
strong performance as Everyman 1, as did Shanali Dias who played Everyman after
his sins have been cleansed.
notable performances were turned in by Jennifer Moffat as Death and Claire Hogan
as Good Deeds. In fact, the entire cast played well as an ensemble which is a
testament to the teaching abilities of director Alix Sideris.
production and performances stay true to the original 16th century text which
was, is and always will be a true classic.
you are looking for something to do on this rainy spring day I would highly recommend
jumping in the car and driving down to the Orléans Theatre on Centrum Blvd. and
plunking down $5 for either the 2 p.m. or 7:30 p.m. performance. You'll be glad
story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local
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