- Abelard and Eloisa have it out.
The latest offering from EcelcticPond is a bawdy glimpse at how the gods and goddess of any religion have the power to play us for pawns. Michael Meeuwis's farce is based on the true love story of Heloise d'Argenteuil and her tutor Pierre Abelard, who were separated by an evil uncle - and whose love letters inspired generations of poets and artists.
In this re-telling, the angel Gabriel (Noah Winston) saunters into the boudoir of Venus (Kate Homan) circa 1080 AD. The two meet every thousand years to place a bet on the fate of the world's belief system. If he wins, Christianity continues its reign for another thousand years. If she wins, the Roman gods and goddess regain their power over the human psyche. The wager: Will one humble scholar, endowed with gifts from each party, succumb to the temptation of a woman?
As the farce unwinds, Winston and Homan prove to be a perfect comic duo. As a theological twist on the odd couple, its delightful to see the straitlaced Gabriel squirm through the eyes of a lustful Venus. At the story's heart are its lovers: Mauren O'Leary as Eloisa and Scott Russel as her tutor Abelard. Caught up in thoughts of learning Latin, mathematics and, most importantly, biology, the pair have a wacky chemistry on stage that makes their slap-stick romance believable.
An ensemble of talent surrounds the four principals. Each character, from the evil uncle (Aaron Moon) to Eloise's kindly, yet dying father (Glen Clifton) and the bawdy criminal charged with removing Abelard's testicles (Andrea Heiden), is played broadly, with inspiring flights of pure silliness. Director Sarah Neville walks the careful line between offensive and hilarious, never straying from her mission to crudely go where no god has gone before. Through June 23 at the Irvington Lodge.