Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955) was a Jesuit priest who also trained as a geologist (earning a Doctorate at the Sorbonne) and worked as a paleontologist in Egypt, France, and China, where he formed part of the international team that made the discovery of the early hominid Peking Man in 1929. While always remaining loyal to his vows, in his writings de Chardin openly challenged Church doctrine, including the idea of Original Sin, and treated the Biblical creation story as a metaphor, seeking to reconcile his work in evolutionary theory with his theological beliefs. However, he was never allowed to publish his theories in his lifetime, dying in relative obscurity in New York. Only with the posthumous publication of The Phenomenon of Man did Teilhard's ideas finally reach a wider audience. In so doing, his mystical reconciliation of science and spirituality--it's to de Chardin that we owe the epigram "Everything that rises must converge"--touched a chord with many seeking to find a basis for Christianity in the material world. In The De Chardin Project the folks at Quickening Theatre have taken the outline of Teilhard's life and turned it into a tremendously compelling hour of theatre. The writing (by Adam Seybold, who also plays Teilhard) is especially rich, and as voiced by Seybold and fellow creator Kate Fenton (who plays a number of roles and who also serves, along with director Ginette Mohr, as co-creator of the show) one feels in some sense inspirited by the words. At the same time, with just a few props and simple yet effective stage techniques, the material side of Teilhard's philosophy is brought to imaginative theatrical life. Both Seybold and Fenton have tremendous stage presence and chemistry, and as told by this company (winners of the 2009 "Cultchivating the Fringe" Award for Fish Face), you will indeed find your pulse quickening as you listen to de Chardin's story.
Accidental assassins turned cabaret artists, imaginary friends who turn out to be real, archaeologists who tell jokes, and hundreds of wooden frogs audience members get to stroke with sticks to camouflage their laughter: these are just some of the delights on offer in Richard Harrington and Chris Kauffman's Cabaret Terrarium. The show resurrects (as it were) the stars of Harrington and Kauffman's previous Fringe show, Hotel California, and features a hilarious rendition of The Eagles song. Gustave is an affectless Belgian singer-musician whose voice and sense of rhythm are as rusty as his little grey cells (to be fair, he has been encased in a block of ice). Nhar is his trusty pantomime sidekick. Together they enact an identity quest that, in its epic scope, is at once arctic and equatorial, amphibious and avian, physical and metaphysical. Great good fun.