Sophocles and Kathy Randels have at least one stage preference in common: sunlight. Both of them put on plays outdoors. Randels' ArtSpot Productions collaborated in last year's highly regarded Loup Garou in City Park. She is currently performing in Go Ye Therefore ... in a backyard on St. Roch Avenue.
The home that serves as stage and backdrop for the show was damaged by the 2005 levee failures. It is raised on pillars and undergoing restoration. In spite of several references, the play is not about Hurricane Katrina, but water infiltrates Jeff Beck's ingenious set. These waters are almost subliminal and therefore all the more effective. For instance, pulley systems used to change the set are animated by weighted buckets.
Randels and collaborator Rebecca Mwase spent nine months writing the piece, and it's well thought-out and well presented. They are the only actors, and they perform with a great deal of gusto under the direction of Ashley Sparks. The piece begins in the evocative slanting light of twilight, but it is aptly illuminated throughout with lighting by Hannah Adams. Emanuel Burke accompanies the show on the keyboard. Most of the songs are hymns because the story is about two women, one black and one white, who are both the daughters of Baptist preachers.
Go Ye Therefore ... is more of a collage than a narrative and touches on immediate and far-reaching material, including imperialism, patriarchy, slavery, the Southern Baptists' original position on slavery and much else.
The visuals are wonderfully simple and effective, and the performances have a great assurance. There are constant transformations, so gender, time and place are slippery. The actors range from rooftop sermons to walking in the aisles. Assisting the transformations are the imaginative costume designs of Laura Sirkin-Brown. The audience moves with the action from set to set. It's a flashback to the 1960s when this sort of participatory theater exploded onto the scene, but rarely have I seen performance art so entertaining and thought-provoking. A tip of the hat to Randels and Mwase for taking this risk and pulling it off. — Dalt Wonk
Thru June 6
Go Ye Therefore ...
7:30 p.m. Thu.-Sun.
5168 St. Roch Ave., 826-7783; www.artspotproductions.com