Pentecost OFF-BROADWAY REVIEWS

Photo: Stan Barouh
  • Pentecost
  • NY TIMES

  • TM

  • STAGE BUDDY

  • THEATRE IS EASY

Opening Night:
July 8, 2014
Closing:
August 10, 2014

Theater: Atlantic Stage Two / 330 West 16th St., New York, New York, 10011

Synopsis: 

The setting is an abandoned church in a Eastern European country. A 13th-century fresco has just been unearthed --if it proves to predate the works of Giotto, it could explode accepted notions about European art. Without warning, a group of armed refugees barricade themselves inside the church, leading to a shocking conclusion.

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  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF Pentecost

    Clashing Holds on Renaissance Art History David Edgar’s ‘Pentecost,’ Revived by PTP/NYC

    Alexis Soloski

    July 18, 2014: What if the Renaissance began earlier and elsewhere? That audacious question kindles David Edgar’s Pentecost, a 1994 play revived by PTP/NYC. No less resonant now than when it had its premiere, the drama is a testament to Mr. Edgar’s literary skill and a rebuke to the political climate in Eastern Europe and elsewhere. Pentecost is set somewhere in the Balkans inside a church that has also served as a mosque, a prison, a warehouse and a secular museum. But Gabriella Pecs (Tosca Giustini), an impetuous curator at the local museum, believes she has made a major discovery beneath the soot-grimed brick. As she explains to Oliver Davenport (Jonathan Tindle), a skeptical British art historian, she’s found a fresco in one-point perspective that possibly antedates those of Giotto, suggesting that early modernism kicked off a century earlier and in a more easterly direction than the textbooks claim. Quickly the fresco becomes a point of contention among priests, politicians and scholars. Everyone wants to lay claim to it, with the possible exception of Leo Katz (Alex Draper), an American academic who wants to prove it actually isn’t so old or so important. But in the play’s second half these art-historical hypotheticals give way to more brutal realities when a group of asylum seekers barricade themselves in the church and take the art experts hostage.

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  • THEATERMANIA REVIEW OF Pentecost

    Art, politics, and history make dangerous bedfellows in David Edgar's 1994 drama

    Pete Hempstead

    July 18, 2014: David Edgar certainly gives audiences plenty to chew on in his intricate play Pentecost, now running in repertory with Gertrude — The Cry at Atlantic Stage 2. Potomac Theatre Project has produced an exemplary staging of the work, which many critics hail as Edgar's most accomplished, layered play. Given our present-day world events, this 20-year-old drama seems like it could have been written yesterday. Mark Evancho's dynamic set does double duty for Pentecost and its excellent partner play, Gertrude. For Pentecost, the gray-stoned walls become an abandoned church in an unnamed southeastern European country that's trying to get its bearings after the collapse of communism. Behind that wall, art curator Gabriella Pecs (Tosca Giustini) has discovered a fresco that she suspects predates, by 100 years, a similar painting by the 13th-century Italian Giotto. If she's correct, it could mean that Western art actually began in Eastern Europe, and at the hands of a hitherto unknown artist. Gabriella has asked art historian Oliver Davenport (Jonathan Tindle) to weigh in on her find before she has the fresco moved to her museum. However, the country's religious and political leaders also have a big stake in the fate of the fresco, which leads to the question of who has the right to claim it: the church, the state, or the museum.

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  • STAGE BUDDY REVIEW OF Pentecost

    Review: Pentecost

    Rebecca Kaplan

    July 17, 2014: Take a story about historic art restoration, communism, and human misery, add a ton of heart, humor, hope and hubris, and you might get something approximating David Edgar's Pentecost. The PTP/NYC (Potomac Theatre Project) revival of Edgar's 1994 play takes the audience to an unnamed Eastern European country shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, and never stops moving. Just when you think you know where the play is headed, the action suddenly shifts and veers off course. PTP/NYC's production is seamless, with splendid acting -- stand-outs were Tosca Giustini as energetic, saucy Gabriella Pecs, Nina Silver as Anna Jedlikova, a former dissident who has turned into a "jailer" of her people, and Mari Vial-Golden, playing Yasmin. All of these women flesh out their characters with their performances, making them as nuanced and complex as the script allows. The clever set design by Mark Evancho is another gem.

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  • THEATRE IS EASY REVIEW OF Pentecost

    Pentecost By David Edgar

    Benjamin Coleman

    July 15, 2014: “Ambitious” is one word that suits the revival of David Edgar’s Pentecost, presented by the Potomac Theatre Project. In this sprawling (almost epic) drama, art historians feed on their ambition as they strive to uncover a missing link in art history, a group of refugees take up arms to fight for their political and religious freedoms, and the surrounding government and religious organizations fight to maintain order and bring their infantilized country into the modern world. Debates surrounding art history, cultural displacement, religious fundamentalism, fervent nationalism, and the failure to achieve the Communist utopia comprise the 2 hours and 45 minutes of Pentecost, and certainly are reflective of the ambition possessed by Edgar and the Potomac Theatre Project. In her director’s note, Cheryl Faraone states that “Pentecost is in fact two plays”, and while this first rate production blossoms under her care, it nevertheless feels like two halves that do not quite meet in the middle. After the house lights dim, a beam from a single flashlight slices across the dark stage when an art curator, Gabriella Pecs (Tosca Giustini), enters leading her guest, the British art historian Oliver Davenport (Jonathan Tindle), through an abandoned church. Gabriella has discovered a giant fresco that promises to revolutionize the history of Western Art, if Oliver confirms her research to be accurate. However, the evidence is continually punctured by the American art historian and agitator Leo Katz (Alex Draper), who proceeds to dismantle their claims stroke by stroke. This trio of fine actors bring heat and passion to these intellectual diatribes, invigorating their historical subjects to make this intellectual material accessible and even entertaining for art aficionados and novices alike.

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