Got a chance to see a late night performance of Hail Satan by Mac Rogers as a part of the Fringe Festival last night. I personally loved it, and I wasn't the only one. Around me I heard chatter that it was the best of the Fringe Festival shows many of the other members of the audience had seen. It's wonderfully acted, well-directed and the play itself is a hoot. I loved it.
The play struck me as a bit of an anxiety dream about gainful employment. Many of us that ply our trade in the world of playwrighting have money jobs that take up a great deal of time and, of course, offer up countless ways to just, frankly, give up. Every day I sit down in a cubicle, lined with pictures my girlfriend and cartoons from the New Yorker, and talk to people about charitable deductions and IRS discount rates and IRA Rollvers and Annual Fund Letters and best practices for endowment management. It's shockingly easy and terribly distracting and it's the only way to afford my apartment and have healthcare at this stage in my life.
Hail Satan's premise is that a young writer (it's implied that he's given up on creative writing as an aspiration and now writes corporate communications) winds up at a small office and finds himself embraced wholly by the team. The catch: his co-workers are literally Satan-worshippers, who make a wonderfully persuasive case for their religion. It's essentially your standard anti-Christian message with a rather sickening twist.
Personally, I actually work for a religious organization. So on that level, the play had some resonance with me. But Rogers does far more than flesh out a funny premise. He treats his premise as a metaphor for the influence that the intensity of others, and our own passivity, can have cumulatively have on our...well...souls. It's darker than you might think, and very, very funny, and it never quite does what you expect.
There's one performance left: Friday August 24th at 7pm.
It's definitely worth a look.
Might I also suggest Adam Szymokowicz's Susan Gets Some Play? I haven't had a chance to see it, because my schedule is the Devil, but it's gotten great notices and it's universally been called a great time. Go see it!
- Matthew Freeman is a Brooklyn based playwright with a BFA from Emerson College. His plays include THE DEATH OF KING ARTHUR, REASONS FOR MOVING, THE GREAT ESCAPE, THE AMERICANS, THE WHITE SWALLOW, AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR, THE MOST WONDERFUL LOVE, WHEN IS A CLOCK, GLEE CLUB, THAT OLD SOFT SHOE and BRANDYWINE DISTILLERY FIRE. He served as Assistant Producer and Senior Writer for the live webcast from Times Square on New Year's Eve 2010-2012. As a freelance writer, he has contributed to Gamespy, Premiere, Complex Magazine, Maxim Online, and MTV Magazine. His plays have been published by Playscripts, Inc., New York Theatre Experience, and Samuel French.