THEATREdART may just stir up a little sympathy for the devil.
That's sort of the idea behind the theater troupe executing local playwright Jeff Keele's adaptation of John Milton's Paradise Lost. The epic poem, originally published in 1664, follows the fictional account of Lucifer's exile from heaven and his subsequent temptation of Adam and Eve.
Keele says that when he re-reads Milton's work, he can actually side with the antagonist, depending on his mood. And if that lends itself to existential crisis, that works for director Jonathan Margheim.
"Lucifer in Paradise Lost is sort of the prototypical antihero in literature in general," Margheim says. "People will inevitably come to the show with preconceived notions of who God, the Son, Lucifer, Adam and Eve are."
Margheim says he and his crew tried throughout rehearsals to strip those concepts, to clarify the true essence of the play. They used more modern language and replaced long lyrical stanzas with dialogue. But Keele says there was no intention of changing the play outright.
"I didn't want to re-conceptualize it," he says. "It's still heaven and hell. It's common to take these figures and use them symbolically, and I thought it would be better to do it straight rather than doing some sort of corporate iteration."
Margheim agrees, saying the goal is not to represent grandiose archetypes, but to fully flesh out each character's motivations and fears.
Speaking of flesh, Adam and Eve will be garbed in the traditional attire of nothing at all. The rest of the cast will be adorned in body art contributed by Out Loud Makeup's KJ Murphy. And, because there are no seats, audience members will move about with the actors through each scene, similar to what TdA did last season with its take on Reservoir Dogs.