The Cardinals OFF-BROADWAY REVIEWS

Photo: Sara Krulwich
  • NY TIMES

  • Opening Night:
    January 12, 2015
    Closing:
    January 18, 2015

    Theater: The Public Theater / 425 Lafayette Street, New York, NY, 10003

    Synopsis: 

    Three cardinals are on an evangelical mission to broaden knowledge of the Bible – through their traveling puppet theater. But when their puppets go missing, they must take to the stage themselves. With the assistance of their ever-tolerant female Muslim stage manager, they race through key scenes from the Bible, famous incidents from the Crusades, and finally bring us to the contemporary Middle East. With their trademark humor and ingenious approach to form, Stan’s Cafe brings us a hilarious and strangely moving reflection on faith, belief, and theater. Stan’s Cafe collaboratively devise shows that playfully twist theatre out of shape in order to help people see their world in a new way. Formed in Birmingham, UK in 1991, the company has produced a dizzying range of shows in a wild range of settings.

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  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF The Cardinals

    A History of Christianity, With No Strings Attached

    Charles Isherwood

    January 13, 2015: The long, tumultuous history of Christianity reels by like a silly cartoon in The Cardinals, an uninspired and interminable show being presented as part of the Under the Radar festival. The concept behind the production, which comes from a theater troupe called Stan’s Cafe of Birmingham, England, posits that three cardinals are “on an evangelical mission to broaden knowledge of the Bible — through their traveling puppet theater,” according to a note on the Public Theater website. Alas, the puppets get lost in transit, so the cardinals must jump into the fray to enact famous scenes from the Old and New Testaments. This is, to begin with, irritatingly nonsensical. Unless Pope Francis has radically altered the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church while I was busy playing Candy Crush Saga, cardinals are hardly likely to be producing itinerant theater. Also, if you didn’t read that précis of the show beforehand, you’d have no clue that the cardinals were pinch-hitting for puppets. True, before the tiny pageant begins, one red-robed cardinal in a broad-brimmed hat can be seen shuffling around the backstage area, as if looking for something. He then emits a scream. But the show is mostly wordless (mumbling between the cardinals and their Muslim stage manager can occasionally be heard), and it would take a very perceptive interpreter to deduce that the scream translates as: “Oh, Lord! Where have our puppets gone?”

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