“A Fable” at the Cherry Lane Theatre (Closed Saturday June 28, 2014)

Written by David Van Asselt
Directed by Daniel Talbott
Reviewed by David Roberts
Theatre Reviews Limited

“Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate” (“Here must all distrust be left behind; all cowardice must be ended.”) – Dante Alighieri, “The Divine Comedy,” Canto III, line 9 of “The Inferno”

One would think that with Dante Alighieri, Goethe, John Milton, Kurt Weill, T.S. Eliot, Arthur Miller, Tony Kushner (among others) in the house, nothing but a good time would be had by all. No so. The myriad allusions to the aforementioned greats and the usually reliable hand of Rattlestick’s David Van Asselt could not save “A Fable,” currently running at the Cherry Lane Theatre, from unintentional – one would hopefully assume – meaninglessness.

Attempting to gain street creds from the likes of the biblical Book of Job and Goethe’s Faust, “A Fable” pits heaven (Angela) against hell (Luke) in the eternal battle to win souls for their respective domains. Here the one tempted to do wrong and encouraged by his superego to do the right thing is Jonny (think ‘Surabaya’) a member of Operation Island Liberation (yes, O.I.L.) intending to ‘liberate’ the island of Tahooty a fractured trope for any target of the military-industrial complex (there’s even a Hallie Burton!). Jonny falls for Chandra, leaves Chandra to find her father – well that is enough plot for this review. It would have been more meritorious had the story line ended there.

One wonders what the intended audience is/was for this misdirected mélange: high school drama clubs; perhaps church youth groups. One also wonders what anyone/everyone on the creative team was hoping to accomplish by mounting this production. It could not be more ill-conceived or laborious. The actors’ names are not mentioned not to overlook their effort but to protect their innocence.

It was maddening to spend two-and-a-half hours (it seemed interminable) inside on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon with “A Fable.” Readers should not follow suit.

Normally, when spending time with any creative endeavor of the Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre, this critic gladly leaves all distrust behind and without cowardice prepares to be moved to the core of my being. Not so with “A Fable.” I just desperately wanted to flee.

Rattlestick’s “The Few” has been extended through June 21. See that instead.