Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

True Believers

Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

True Believers

Article excerpt

Infidel, by Crazy Dog Audio Theatre. www.crazydogaudiotheatre.com

Historical reflections on war often lead to the conclusion that the past is prologue, that the same ones are fought again and again, from the Peloponnesus to Afghanistan, from Vietnam to Iraq. Infidel, a historical drama about the Fifth Crusade written by Roger Gregg and produced by the Dublin-based Crazy Dog Audio Theatre, spares us such explicit comparisons, but the play is laced with evocations of Iraq, terrorism, and militarism in general. The result is a clear statement about the enduring, self-perpetuating logic of violence in the name of God, which unites enemies over the course of centuries. But Infidel also shows the timelessness of Christian opposition to war through the internal struggles of its main characters and the shadowy--and historically accurate--presence of St. Francis of Assisi.

But Infidel is first a compelling work that makes skillful use of the audio medium, combining cinema's evocative power with the narrative devices and imaginative demands of a novel. The listener can hear the clashing of swords, but also the thoughts of the protagonist. The chase of a petty thief is audible and clear, but the look of the marketplace he runs through is left to the imagination. Recorded in medieval village surroundings in Ireland as well as in a studio, the sound is realistic and detailed. However, the extensive flashbacks and flash-forwards throughout the play can be confusing, especially in the first act, when the listener has little context in which to place them and is not familiar with all of the relevant characters.

Broken into four 25-minute acts, Infidel traces the journey and development of Hugh of Beauvais from the second son on a small manor in Europe to a simple knight on the crusade battleground to a captive in a Sultan's court. A reluctant warrior of more meek than bold temper, Hugh is accompanied by his brave, ambitious older brother Philip. He meets a cast of jingoistic clergymen, unscrupulous arms dealers, hardened crusaders, and condemned innocents on his odyssey to the Holy Land. But his most constant companions are the conflicting memories that refuse to leave him as he embarks upon Christian jihad in the year 1217. We hear them repeatedly as he goes to fight in Egypt. Recitation of the Beatitudes and exhortations to holy war shout each other down as Hugh struggles with faith, church, and death, and the words of his beloved Johanna remind him continually that he is no bloodthirsty fighter.

MANY OF HUGH'S compatriots demonstrate the timeless nature of the ethics and impulses of war. …

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