A church schism leads to questions of faith, friendship in The Christians

The Christians

Sept. 15 to Oct. 7 | Pacific Theatre

Tickets and info: $20 to $36.50 at pacifictheatre.org

At first (and second) glance, The Christians doesn’t seem like the kind of edgy work that appeals to the off-Broadway crowd.

It’s not a post-Rapture fantasy like HBO’s The Leftovers. Nor is it a slightly subversive musical, like The Book of Mormon. Instead, it’s about actual nuts-and-bolts doctrine. But although a play that revolves around soteriology (the doctrine of salvation) might not sound like a gripping evening out, Pacific Theatre Artistic Director Ron Reed has some (good) news for you.

“You’d think that a play set in a big church, about troubles in a church, how boring could that be?” said Reed, who plays Pastor Paul. “And this play is so breathlessly not boring. It’s so dramatic, and human.”

Pacific Theatre describes the central conflict behind The Christians thus: “With one sentence Paul overturns one of the most sacred tenets of his church’s beliefs, sending his congregation reeling towards schism.” Hopefully, it’s not too much of a spoiler to reveal that what the pastor tells his congregation is that they will no longer believe in Hell.

But the play is about more than a church schism, notes Reed.

“Any play is structured so that the first choice that a character makes, something goes wrong,” Reed said. “And then they have to change it, fix it, make it the way they need it to be. And Pastor Paul is deluged with challenges. It’s a play about friendship, leadership, marriage, institutions growing too big. So many things get touched on and shaken in this.”

Director Sarah Rodgers, in the course of her research, discovered recent parallel stories, particularly in the U.S. And Reed notes that he sees parallels elsewhere.

“I know of a theatre company going through a terrible division between its artistic director and board of directors,” Reed said. “When I work this play every day, my heart is broken for them. As soon as people start, second-guessing one another, talking behind one another’s back, having different agendas while they have the same task to do, it’s nightmare. People involved at any level in these kinds of stories, it will be close to the bone.”

Pacific Theatre’s presentation marks the play’s Canadian premiere, and a coup for the company. Critics praised The Christians, which premiered in 2015 and is the third produced piece by playwright Lucas Hnath. His Broadway debut, A Doll’s House, …read more

Source:: Vancouver Sun – Entertainment

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