Say Amen.Somebody?

Inspired by Genesis, DTC's In the Beginning makes Eden into a land of confusion

And just as it's getting really engrossing, clunk. The acting, storytelling, entertaining portion of the evening ends abruptly. "And that's as far as we got in the rehearsal process," says actor Matthew Gray, stepping out of character and coming to the edge of the stage as the lights come up on the audience. Those may not be his exact words. Being jolted out of Noah and the Great Flood, it takes a few moments to readjust. People don't know whether to applaud or not. Everything just stops.

The actors then invite confused theatergoers to answer a few questions based on what's just been performed. Microphones are handed out. And for 20 minutes or so, there's supposed to be a—what?—lively exchange of ideas? Argument? Altar call?

Moriarty is a believer in the "conversation" that he wants his productions to start among audience, actors and playwrights. The director likes the after-show talkback and held them last fall after every performance of Tommy and The Good Negro. (Presumably none were necessary after A Christmas Carol.)

Cedric Neal, Marcus Stimac and Abbey Seigworth  fall short of paradise in DTC's In the Beginning.
BRANDON THIBODEAUX
Cedric Neal, Marcus Stimac and Abbey Seigworth fall short of paradise in DTC's In the Beginning.

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continues through February 15 at Dallas Theater Center. Call 214-522-8499.

There's arrogance, however, in asking the audience not only to excuse the lack of a cohesive ending but actually to provide it. DTC subscribers have shown resistance to provocative material in the past. God knows what some of them will think of a show that not only questions people's beliefs about the Bible, but tells them to throw out their notion of what an evening of theater should be.

Moriarty has been bold to do so much new work this season. Let's hope that in the future he continues to redefine what theater is, for performers and those they perform for. He definitely has a vision that's different, exciting and a little scary for a community used to the comforts of Tennessee Williams, Shakespeare and other familiars.

God continued to tinker with his creation after his first week on the job. So let's not judge Moriarty et al too harshly for starting the year with something that seems like a work in progress. There's enough in what they already have to satisfy many, and somewhere in the run, they might figure out what they're doing.

Whatever Moriarty and his company have begat with In the Beginning, it just be-gots to have an ending better than the one that it be-has.

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