Feb 20, 2007

Seven Sins

On monday night I had the absolute pleasure of spending a couple of hours watching and discussing (in equal measure) a staged reading of 7 (or should that be Se7en...) short plays, each dealing with one of the seven deadly sins, and each written by a different writer (including the delightful Ben Yeoh - who it is always nice to see).

Despite the utterly tepid atmosphere in the sinister white room we were gathered in at the top of the Soho Theatre and the propensity of the air conditioning unit to give an attention-seeking judder just as each of the ten minute pieces got going, it was a fascinating evening.

As I believe someone on the night pointed out the best plays were those where the writers had taken what this fairly formulaic concept as merely a jumping off point for a clever, exciting, and utterly unique series of explorations. The director had managed, by hook or by crook, to get a wonderfully contradictory and diverse muddle of writers involved whose contrary styles complemented each other beautifully. Each sin in turn became an intruiging opportunity to see a talented young playwright grappling with an all-too-familiar topic.

It reminded me of a similar evening at the BAC (now a step closer to securing its ticket on the subsidy bandwagon for a few more years - for some interesting thoughts on this see Chris Goode's typically detailed post on the subject) in which a series of groups tackled the subject of the Fire of London in a pick and mix of weird, wonderful and utterly rubbish pieces. The sense of fun and adventure (with just a light seasoning of quiet rivalry) that such gloriously silly and ambitious projects foster is always infectious.

I believe the plan is for this seven deadly sin project to go through some more development and then be performed as a whole piece. Keep your eyes peeled for it - the quality of a lot of the writing makes it a worthwhile spot.

And for those of you not wondering I think if I had had the choice I personally would have plumped for Pride as I feel that it alone has been to a large degree co-opted by the forces of good, while for the most part (and despite the best attempts of a few lecherous Monarchs) our morals have remained depressingly tepid. Speaking of which - did you realise that for each of the Sins there was a corresponding Virtue?

Sin Virtue
Lust (inappropriate desire) Chastity (purity)
Gluttony (over-indulgence) Temperance (self-restraint)
Greed (avarice) Generosity (vigilance)
Sloth (laziness) Zeal (enthusiasm)
Wrath (anger) Patience (composure)
Envy (jealousy) Charity (giving)
Pride (vanity) Humility (humbleness)

Don't here so much about those, do we? I would imagine its because chastity, temeperance, generosity, zeal, patience, charity and humility would make an utterly, utterly dull piece of collaborative theatre/critically acclaimed late nineties noir thriller. "Restraint is the keystone of the seven holy virtues" - no wonder the devil has all the best songs...

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