When I saw the reference to the main character navigating her way through "the inner workings of the seven circles," I wondered if I should skim through my decades old copy of The Inferno so I wouldn't miss anything.
I needn't have worried, for there is only a nod or two to themes in Dante's nine circles. Rather than descending into the depths of Hell, the action stays focused in the reception area just outside Lucifer's office.
With my Baby Boomer upbringing and my dusty literary references, I found this funny and philosophically interesting glimpse into hell refreshing and millennial in perspective. Hell's modern methods of torture include spotty wifi, tormenting bigots with gender fluidity, and taunting people through internet trolling.
In this play, Hell has a corporate structure and Lucifer, who prefers to be called Lucy, has been working with the same Board of Directors for centuries. The simple set has desk and waiting area and a door in the middle of the stage that works well both as a symbol and as the entrance/exit for the devil.
The red door at centre stage keeps "Rule Number One" front of mind. Rule Number One is: Never Enter Lucifer's office.
The audience is introduced to the members of the Hell's Board of Directors as they come to the office to discuss their departmental concerns with Lucy. The pacing was a tad slow in a couple spots, but generally this setting worked well.
There are strong and intelligent female characters in this play. Laura, the new executive assistant to Lucy, loves a challenge and quickly spots ways to increase the influence of Hell as well as enhancing her own power.
Lilith, the Head of Punishments, is sexy with a wicked streak, and is corporately savvy. The woman lawyer in charge of Soul Contracts is smart, professional and has a no-nonsense attitude.
While the women characters gained importance through their wits, the male characters seemed to have power that was based in their higher status positions. The male lawyer was sleazy and stuck in the belief that his position of power entitled him to make sexual advances on a lower status secretary. Ponzi, the head of finance, smiles and seems like a nice guy, but we know he's a con-man.
The non-gender binary Lucy/Lucifer seems cold, confident and completely in charge at first. Lucy becomes less aloof when speaking passionately about humanity, responsibility and evil in the world. Lucy's sense of personal power seems timeless and self-contained, rooted neither in crafty manipulations, nor in the high status of being CEO. What a great role and a strong stage debut for Jack Preston!
It was a terrific opening night with a big audience for a Thursday 6 pm. first night of Fringe. The audience was fully engaged and clearly enjoyed this performance!
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