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Eileen Atkins as Maddy Rooney in Beckett's "All That Fall"

Eileen Atkins as Maddy Rooney in Beckett’s “All That Fall”

A phlegmatic, curmudgeonly old woman in a small Irish village some hundred years ago complains bitterly about the horribleness of life as she makes her way to the train station to meet her husband who is returning on the afternoon train. Along the way she meets other villagers: the dung monger, a buffoonish neighbor on a bicycle, a man in a motorcar with whom she had a flirtation ages ago, Miss Fitt whose name denotes her awkwardness, and the train station manager who has the unpleasant duty of telling her the train is delayed. Her husband arrives, not on time but soon enough, and together wife and husband walk slowly back to their house, stopping now and again to share a laugh and a cry.

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His Majesty the Devil, featuring Arnaud Ghillebaert Macintyre Dixon and Colin Pip Dixon

His Majesty the Devil, featuring Arnaud Ghillebaert, Macintyre Dixon and Colin Pip Dixon

The Father of Lies, Leviathan, Lucifer and The Old Enemy — these are names for the personification of evil in our Western, Judeo-Christian tradition. Lucifer (literally “light bearer,” a metaphor for “the morning star” that appears in Isaiah 14:12) refers to the demigod’s former status as the deity’s second in command before the elevation of Jesus. Leviathan is the “coiled serpent” of Isaiah 27 and Job 41: “Any hope of subduing him is false; the mere sight of him is overpowering.” Advocate (in the sense of lawyer), accuser and prosecutor are translations of הַשָּׂטָן, the creature that appears in Job to tempt the eponymous hero to disavow his faith in God. This manifestation of Satan tempts the Young Man in Alexandra Devon’s play His Majesty, the Devil playing at 59E59 Theaters as part of their East to Edinburgh festival.

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Cultural Capitol welcomes our guest columnist Keith Meatto! Check out is other work at Frontier Psychiatrist.

Beethoven and Quasimodo team up to write a musical interpretation of a cryptic stage direction in Anton Chekhov’s play The Cherry Orchard, but both men are deaf and near death, Beethoven is senile, and the project ends in failure. Such is the setup of The Hunchback Variations, based on Mickle Maher’s play with music by Mark Messing, a “chamber opera” that had a successful run in Chicago and opened June 1 at 59E59 Theaters in New York.

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David Harrower’s play A Slow Air aims to evoke the feeling of an old song, one that a bar full of drunks will sing in the wee hours. To do that he puts us in the moment when the song becomes meaningful: that smoky local (you know the one) late night, after the bad feelings have come up and been spit out like bile, after the accusations and recriminations, the years of disappointment and confusion, after watching your dreams modified into hopes, and even those hopes contracted to a desire to be left alone.

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