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“Let There Be Thistles” - Ladue News: Arts & Entertainment

“Let There Be Thistles”

First Run Theatre and Dusty Bums

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Posted: Wednesday, August 18, 2010 12:00 am

Play:        “Let There Be Thistles”

Groups:    First Run Theatre and Dusty Bums

Venue:        Marble Stage Theatre, ArtSpace at Crestwood Court, Watson at Sappington

Dates:        August 20, 21, 22

Tickets:    $10-$12; contact 314-352-5114 or www.firstruntheatre.com

Story:    It’s been a tough day for “The God.”  He stands in his tiny room, which is barren of windows and doors and filled with a drab, dull and deadly hue devoid of any life.  He proclaims, “Let there be light,” but nothing happens.  When light eventually does illuminate his cramped quarters, it’s faint and intermittent luminescence from his single, tiny lamp.

This God is far from omnipotent, and it’s apparent that his powers are severely limited.  He points out his fondness for roses, but figures that he has a better chance of success if he says, “Let there be thistles.”  He makes frequently flippant remarks about his two-legged “monkeys” who are impressed with toast and other meaningless aspects of their lives.  He ponders how he has arrived at his own, solitary predicament, while observing the life of a flea named Stan in his room.  It’s an existence of frustration for God but an existence of wonder for Stan.  What’s to be made of it all?

Highlights:    Playwright/actor Joshua Thomas describes his two-act work as “a play about the nature of belief and the power that belief can have as a self-fulfilling prophecy.”  While he writes that “I chose to write about a God,” in the very next sentence he writes, “There is the obvious danger that some people will assume that I have written a story about God.”  Well, sure, that’s as clear as mud.

    Fortunately, Thomas’ play is considerably better written than his program notes.  His self-described atheism limits “The God” to a very human existence, but he has a clever way with words and an off-kilter approach to intelligent dialogue that makes this effort sparkle.  Combined with his precise direction of actor Robert Ashton, who fills the roles of God and Stan with an affecting combination of pathos and humor, Thomas makes this a well-paced, pensive piece.  For his part, Ashton cannily conveys the ‘piques and valleys’ of this God, shaping Thomas’ pensive observations into a smooth blend of rumination and entertainment.

Other Info:    Erich Suellentrop’s lighting greatly enhances Ashton’s on-stage efforts with wry, ironic touches, accentuating the forlorn set designed by Thomas.  Ashton provides the ‘dreary’ dapper attire of God and the funky flea garb, and joins Thomas in assembling an amusing mishmash of props, while Brad Slavik and Thomas add an affecting sound design to help paint the portrait of this fading divinity.

    As a wry commentary “about a God” by an atheist, “Let There Be Thistles” is a charming and introspective observation that makes one think while grappling with its thorny issues.

Rating:    A 4 on a scale of 1-to-5.

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