“I want enlightenment, and I want it right now!”
This isn’t a new idea — demanding the immediate gratification of wisdom with the same air as ordering a number five meal, large, with onion rings instead of fries — and it appears over and over again, in different contexts, throughout the world’s religions. Western or Eastern, ancient or a little less ancient, the search for vast truths is always met with the same disappointing answer: This will take some time and maybe you still won’t get what you want.
But what if you had the power to force the issue?
And what if that power was part of your ability to command… demons?
This and much more is at the heart of Amit Itelman’s sharp, funny, insightful play, “Bride of Blood,” running its last performance this coming Thursday, November 8, 2018, at the Skylight Theatre (practically next door to L.A.’s revered Skylight Books). We join the legendary King Solomon (Steven Schub, who gives the role the fiery quality often associated with Old Testament Biblical figures — his Solomon has the combination of reverence and rebellion that these personae are famous for, never content with pat answers and always ready to wrestle with angels and demons alike) as he struggles to wrap his renowned wisdom around a mysterious passage in Exodus. Not content to take on the material with his incredible intellect, he does what anyone might do if he had God-given power over ancient and all-knowing demons: He cheats and tries to use his supernatural advantages to pry the hidden truth out of the words.
This is no sermon, though it does have plenty of serious thought in it. Solomon forces the service of the demon Asmodeus (Tom Ballatore, mixing some dry comedy in with the sly menace of his character) and goes on an absolutely bewildering journey through time and circumstances he had never expected, dealing with everyone from Zipporah (the commanding and beautiful LaRose Washington) angels, beasts, the embodiment of wisdom and even the spectre of a new Israel long after his death… an Israel divided, a Temple destroyed and even proud, doomed Nebuchadnezzar (Edward Buchanan, a promising young actor with an easy grace on the stage) whose dying kingdom has some echoes (and connections) with the fate of Solomon’s realm.
The script takes concentration to follow, but it rewards your patience — and Solomon’s impatience — by leading you into some fascinating thoughts. The whole production shows a lot of hard work, dedication and talent from the cast and crew (including London May, Virginia Rand, Erika Stasiuleviciute, Miles Taber, David Brooke, Andy Chavez, Kayla Chavez, Fred Fraliegh, Hunter Jackson, Dominik Krzanowski, Robert Miller, Jeff Small, and BJ Winslow — diverse hands indeed, and still more behind the scenes!).
But this being Creepy LA, the question is, do we get creepy things? Well, yes! There are crazy-looking monsters, a quick on-stage surgery (well, mohel or less), magical energy bolts, shrouded mystery women and curses. Between the demons and the time travel and all, “Bride of Blood” is definitely on the mondo side, just as Itelman promises… but it doesn’t stint on the food for thought, either. Go see it (you’ve only got one more chance for this run, but we can always hope for a revival) and have a blast.