It seems to me that our current obsession with "reality" has manifested itself in a paucity of fiction about the war our country is now embroiled in. In the theatre, at least, we've had plenty of docudramas from Guantanamo to Stuff Happens that try to put a spin on actual events; but there have been very few new plays in the tradition of Watch on the Rhine or The Hasty Heart or Home of the Brave that seek to reveal human truths about war through the vehicle of an author's imagination. So Tim Marks's new play The Cleric is almost anomalous in our present climate, and so I'm grateful to Mind the Gap Theatre for bringing it to the NYC stage.
The Cleric raises important, powerful issues, and holds them up to scrutiny in a more human and accessible way than the 6 o'clock news or a docudrama drawn from it ever can... In any event, it's compelling theatre, and certainly helps focus us on subjects that we might be too willing to shut out of our daily consciousnesses.
—From the nytheatre.com review by Martin Denton
How does one terrorize or even cajole answers out of a man who has long since given up faith in humanity and himself?
[The Cleric is] a thought-provoking, often ambiguous play. As the play progresses, it becomes difficult to determine the real enemy... The Cleric raises questions about politics, morality, and whether humanity can persevere in the face of brutality and war.
—From the Show Business review by Rebecca Jones
Tim Marks' pointedly political hostage drama, The Cleric... not only exposes American military abuses of its captives (fight director Mark Olsen ensures that the beatings are vividly brutal), but also depicts the opportunism and petty squabbling between the two men interrogating Father Sean—Marsh (an assured James Kloiber) and Cervantes (played with volcanic ferocity by Armand DesHarnais).
Shackled and wearing a standard-issue orange jumpsuit, Richard T. Lester makes Father Sean an intriguing enigma, part holy man (perhaps martyr) and part lay victim. Particularly clever in Marks' writing is the acid tongue that Father Sean uses as a defense mechanism... [Father Sean], as well as Father Neil (imbued with wonderful pragmatism by Sean Heeney), whom Marsh invites to take Father Sean's confession, are excellent studies in ambiguity.
—From the Backstage review by Andy Propst
Locating the Plant
One of the most pleasant surprises of the theatrical year can be found through October 1 at the Irish Arts Center in the new play Locating the Plant by Tim Marks.
Locating the Plant is a production worth attending.
—From the Irish Voice review by Phil Hopkins
The materials if Tim Marks's Locating the Plant couldn't be more direct or less obscure... Playwright Marks certainly knows whereof he writes.
Marks... regards Locating the Plant and Pearldivers as Parts I and II of an uncompleted trilogy "dealing with the Celtic nation and how they travel." If Marks's locution in that phrase is awkward and even misleading, his writer's ear for the speech and situation of Belfast a decade-and-a-half ago is anything but, with virtually every speech and scene ringing painfully, bitterly true. The same was stingingly true of Pearldivers, which dealt with a collection of mainly Irish drifters in a North London rooming house, plotting a crime they are emphatically too inept and too disorganized ever to pull off.
—From the Irish Echo review by Joseph Hurley
We were particularly impressed by the vivid world of the play and by [the] characterization and dialogue.
The author has dealt really well in showing how a group of people survive in different ways... The characters are clearly defined and well-written. They lift off the page easily and the relationships are clear.
The play works well theatrically. The relationships between the characters are strong and humorous and we care about them, despite their roguishness.
—From the Soho Theatre and Writer's Centre (London)
For the other men in Pearldivers it's a struggle to survive, to hold onto their flat, and they wearily accept it. Their home can change at any time, and it's the fear of eviction which draws the battle lines between hero and outlaw.
The hero stumbles closer to his own home as he discovers compassion for others. He gives someone a floor to sleep on if they need it; he does the right thing because, despite his vices, every man's not out for just himself.
—From the Show Business review by Nicholas Moore
All content in these reviews is © the respective authors.