15th Century Meets Pottery Barn in Creature

Don't worry that the set of Heidi Schreck's Creature invokes both the 15th century and a Pottery Barn franchise; it's an appropriate choice. This virtual mashup, directed by Leigh Silverman, retells the story of controversial Middle English visionary Margery Kempe (Sofia Jean Gomez) in the vocabulary of a Park Slope thirtysomething trying to balance work, faith, sex, and motherhood. The contemporary speech patterns make Kempe, driven by a vision of Christ to seek canonization despite her bourgeois background, sound as whinily impatient as Reese Witherspoon in Election. "I'm going to become a saint!" she tells Father Thomas (Jeremy Shamos). But holiness isn't American Idol, he implies—"Catherine of Siena drank the pus of lepers. Would you do that?"

Chatting with God: Sofia Jean Gomez in Creature
Jim Baldassare
Chatting with God: Sofia Jean Gomez in Creature

Schreck's juxtaposition of the modern middle class and the Middle Ages could be funnier, but in a shaky effort to acknowledge the real Kempe's humanity, the production lurches between lampooning her shallow side and sentimentally lauding her spirituality. The Winslet-like Gomez gets no blame; she whizzes through the character's inconsistencies like an Olympic luge champ. And loose-limbed Marylouise Burke's ninth-inning appearance as fellow visionary Julian of Norwich (renamed "Juliana" here to emphasize her female-ness) provides a burst of humor and balance that proves almost revelatory.

 
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