Morality plays elizabethan theatre essay - V-Connect
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Each of Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’s plays starts out looking like an experiment with a totally different form and style from the history of American theater: sleek, ironic black comedy (), classic nineteenth-century melodrama ); a family saga a la Sam Shepard or Tracy Letts (); blackface and early minstrel shows (). But each of them, alongside that confident formal inventiveness, is using the tools of theater to investigate and work through the same constellation of ideas: about the meaning and value of theater and communal storytelling in a media age, and about the nature of identity—both in the way our storytellers build fictional characters, and in the way we experience and understand our own humanity.
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Like most morality missives, Damned by Despair is not an obvious crowd pleaser, at least not to a 21st century audience. Its plot is, superficially, pretty straightforward: Paolo (Sebastian Armesto), a monk who has for the last decade been living a life of devotion in the desert, is visited by the Devil (Amanda Lawrence) in the guise of God. Go to Naples, the Devil tells Paolo, and find Enrico (Bertie Carvel); observe his actions, for your fates in the afterlife will be the same. Expecting to find a saint-in-waiting, Paolo hotfoots it to Naples and hunts out Enrico, a murderous gang lord. Incredulous but determined Paolo duly adopts a life of crime himself, leading to perhaps inevitable damnation; while Enrico, prompted by his father’s increasing illness, comes to confess his sins and win salvation.