“Pentecost” is ultimately a story of revolution and the struggles of the human spirit. The play focuses on a woman possessed by a secret discovery and her search for the truth behind it. It is about a scholar who, seduced by this woman’s conviction, becomes her ally, and it is about those along the way who hinder their humanistic pursuit in a world torn asunder with political unrest. The whole of the story unfolds shortly after the fall of communism in an unnamed country in Southeast Europe. Inside an abandoned church, National Museum curator and Renaissance enthusiast Gabriella Pecs uncovers a fresco painting she believes may be directly or indirectly connected to Giotto, the 14th century Italian master. The investigation and restoration she and partner-in-crime professor Oliver Davenport spearhead is shrouded in mystery, but soon becomes engulfed with very real obstacles – in the form of fascist fanatics, a pair of suspicious priests, a corrupt politician, an infamously inquiring intellectual and finally, a broken body of refugees desperately in search of sanctuary. Together, these characters cultivate a complex dialogue that balances on the edge of a proverbial wall that divides human salvation and the preservation of culture.
The songs interwoven between scenes are beautiful and intricate evidence that this play wound up in the right hands. These songs not only hold true to the historical context, but also serve to bring the viewer in because they are readily recognizable a modern audience. The construction that went into making a set so like the real space of a Romanesque church is equally impressive.
Only good things can be said about the cast in terms of its ensemble performance. As a whole, the actors were absolutely illuminating. The true humanity brought to the roles of the refugees, especially in the cases of Alex Knox and Aja King, the fearlessness of Travis Comstock as the stubborn American, the unbreakable poise and grace of Yanika Chemerisov as the heroic Gabriella and the utter talent and self-possession of the brilliant Francis Serpa as the adorable British professor, deserve special commendation.
As interested students and engaged citizens, all of you should seize this opportunity to embrace the opportunity of experiencing “Pentecost,” a play about the transcendent power of art as a source of human revolution and cultural sanctuary, and, paradoxically, about the poignant tragedy of its incapacity to rescue humanity from a irreconcilable world of political injustices and unspeakable brutality. At the heart of “Pentecost” is a message, carried in the hearts of everyone involved in it, especially the actors giving it their all onstage. The restoration of hope is an ultimate and binding truth, and the secret of human passion is that truth’s universal language.