Uncle Hyena (unclehyena) wrote,
Uncle Hyena

The Lion & the Serpent

On Sunday we forwent the usual movies and made a minor pilgrimage into the northern marches of the Big Onion to see a play, "The Lion & the Serpent", produced by Terra Mysterium at the Athenaeum Theater. It set off a LOT of cranial echoes; prepare for a long and unusually thoughtful post.

1) Terra Mysterium is a pagan steampunk theater troupe. It is every bit as strange as it sounds. If it also sounds wonderful, it is that as well.

2) The play was first rate. The actors fully inhabited their roles; the story was simultaneously engrossing, coherent, and structurally inventive (a difficult trifecta). The play related a mystery/adventure set in Victorian London (Steampunk troupe, remember?) bracketed by an envelope set in contemporary Chicago. The Victorian plot featured several prominent historical occultists (Pagan troupe, remember?), and the historical characters actually provided some of their own dialog. My only criticism (and I feel a bit mean for voicing it) is that the special effects for the climactic magical battle on the astral plane were about equal parts distracting and effective. But then, how DO you stage a climactic magical battle on the astral plane in live theater? All told, we enjoyed the production a great deal, and we WOULD recommend it highly except...

3) We saw the last of a four performance run. While I understand the economics that produce eye-blink runs like this, the ephemeral nature of live theater drives me that much closer to the edge. This play deserves re-viewing, and I would love to have the chance to ruminate over bits of it (to which end I will probably try to bribe the author into letting me have a script).

4) The ending of the play pushed some of my buttons, but this is a good thing. After the curtain I had a chance to speak briefly with author Keith Green, and expressed both amusement and gratitude for the optimism with which the play ended. "Really?" he said. "I feared the ending was too dark." I smiled and replied, "Pray that you never have to see the world from my perspective."

5) The play ends with a call to courage that is directed at both one of the characters, and at the audience. In an Xian production, it would have been an altar call. In essence, a character who had been established over the past two hours as wise and good said, "We are fighting a war. We are losing, but victory is still possible. Will you help?" And then the lights went out, and it was over.

6) Three statements: "We are fighting a war." Specifically, a war against greed driven hyper-entropy that is destroying the planet underneath us, and will inevitably destroy us as well. "We are losing." This is always hard to say, and hard to hear, and I assume is the source of Mr. Green's statement that he feared the ending was too dark. From my rather different perspective, it is simply the only honest conclusion. "Victory is still possible." And here we have the thought that set off a storm of echoes in my skull. My rational brain, the risk-analysis engine that accumulates and aggregates facts, denies this one categorically. As far as it is concerned, the Titanic hit the iceberg many years ago, and the only thing we can possibly do now is manipulate the date of the great collapse, slightly. Barring a miracle, human society will not survive to see 2100. But... I do not have to be rational. I have the right to believe in, or at least hope for, miracles. And in the pagan community, at least, it is absolutely legitimate to actively CHASE miracles. And THAT is the most hopeful thing I have heard in a VERY long time.

We are fighting a war. We are losing. Victory is still possible. Will you help?

Uncle Hyena
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