DISCORD- THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO THOMAS JEFFERSON, CHARLES DICKENS AND COUNT LEO TOLSTOY
ARIZONA THEATRE COMPANY Slideshow
With Armin Shimmerman, Larry Cedar and Mark Gagliardi
Sets- Tak Kata
Costumes- Ann Closs Farley
Projections- Jeffrey Teeter
Lights- Luke Moyer
Music- Michael Nyman
Sound- Cricket Meyers
In such assured hands as helmer Matt August’s, [DISCORD] should be catnip for regional-theater season subscribers yearning for a little food for thought with their fun.
The actors receive an estimable showcase through August’s exemplary pacing and meticulous production values. Takeshi Kata’s futuristic setting, metallic and forbidding, would terrify the souls of any era, while Michael Nyman’s musical interludes carry us from scene to scene in bursts of modernistic energy and classical grace.
LOS ANGELES TIMES
Imagine the dramaturgical love-child of “Steve Allen’s Meeting of Minds” and Jean-Paul Sartre’s “No Exit.”
Carefully compiled references and biographical details whiz by in Matt August’s finely tuned staging, with superb performances illuminating the clashing personalities that drive three discordant takes on Christianity.
ATC’s season ender is a meaty comedy
Get thee to the Temple.
You do not want to miss Arizona Theatre Company’s production of Scott Carter’s “The Gospel According to Thomas Jefferson, Charles Dickens and Count Leo Tolstoy: Discord,” which opened at the Temple of Music and Art Friday.
The play is sort of like beef Wellington — a juicy hunk of meat wrapped up in a fluffy pastry crust.
…But it’s more than that… due to this cast and director. Larry Cedar’s elegant Jefferson, Armin Shimerman’s angry Tolstoy, and Mark Gagliardi’s overly-dramatic Dickens make sure that laughs come so quickly that we do not realize that ideas are being implanted until after the curtain comes down. And director Matt August infused the word- happy piece with witty visuals, a rhythmic pace and clarity.
The play opens in a plain, undecorated, metallic room, as set by scenic designer, Takeshi Kata. The walls of which are continuously used for projections, by Jeffery Elias Teeter.
What follows is a performance full of literary, historical, and word based puns to entice laughter from the audience, as the three come to the discovery of having one specific thing in common: each has revised their own version of the story of Jesus Christ. Dicken’s version is a re-telling made specifically for children; Jefferson’s focuses on Jesus’ moral teachings; and Tolstoy’s ultimately tells the secret of life in three little words.
The trio of brilliant actors come together amazingly well, all of whom bring a unique force to their characters and to the stage. The resemblance between Cedar and Jefferson is almost uncanny; his performance – his dry humor and love for reason – truly embodies the Founding Father. Gagliardi’s Dickens is enjoyably flamboyant and so expressive; his humor is incredibly well timed. Shimerman, with a very credible Russian accent, brings such a sense of toughness to Tolstoy and delivers some of the best puns in the play.
Ultimately, Discord will make the audience laugh, but towards the end, as it grows incredibly more serious. It will make you head home asking questions and reflecting upon the actions you’ve taken. It forces you to think back on your own life – both the good and the bad.
This new play by Scott Carter…is receiving a crackerjack production at Arizona Theatre Company that features three exceptional performances and impressive creative elements.
The trio of actors who bring these well-known men to life are superb.
Director Matt August plays up the humorous moments but is also exceptionally effective in his focus as the play takes a more serious tone in its final scenes….Takeshi Kata’s simplistic scenic design of large white walls works well to allow Jeffrey Elias Teeter’s imaginative projections and Luke Moyer’s vibrant lighting to transform the space and play off the changing moods and tones of the play. Ann Closs-Farley’s period perfect costumes pop, especially her colorful and outlandish designs for Dickens…..Discord is not only a hilarious and brainy battle of wits but also an interesting expose into the past and an examination of what happens when we are faced to repeat it…. rich in substance, and ATC’s production is as rewarding as the play, with an exceptional cast, confident direction, and vivid and clever creative elements.”