Volume 9 Week 3

Saturday, Apr. 17


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Updated July 223

Updated Apr. 12

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Orléans Ward
Bob Monette

(Posted 17/04/04)
'Everyman' a poignant presentation of the mystery of death
By Fred Sherwin
Orleans Online

Shanali Dias as Everyman is joined by Knowledge (left), played by Laura Elgee, and Good Deeds, played by Claire Hogan, as he's about to be accepted into the Kingdom of Heaven. Fred Sherwin/Photo

Are you ready for your own death? If you're like most people you likely don't spend a lot of time worrying about your potential demise and what awaits on the other side. After all, today most people live well into their 80s and even their 90s.

But in 16th century medieval Europe, worrying about one's death and the hereafter was a constant occupation for some. And considering the average life expectancy at the time was about 36 and Christianity was flourishing, it's little wonder people spent an inordinate amount of time worrying about the final resting place of their everlasting soul.

And just in case their minds and bodies were otherwise occupied committing one or more of the seven deadly sins, they were constantly reminded of the dilemma that awaits during Sunday mass or through travelling troupes of players who would put on morality plays in villages and towns throughout the countryside.

One of the more famous morality plays of the time is called "The Moral Play of Everyman", better known simply as "Everyman". The play is being presented by the Orleans Young Players' Classical Class this weekend at the Orléans Theatre.

"Everyman" is a play about every man's ultimate end and their eventual passage to Heaven or Hell.

At the beginning, Everyman is visited by Death who summons him to a reckoning with God. Before his audience, however, he must fill out his book of account with the various good and bad deeds he undertook throughout his life.

Most of the first half of the play is spent on the psychological journey Everyman must take as he comes to grips with the fact that death is a lonely path.

One by one he is abandoned by Fellowship, Kinship, and Goods and Riches, each portrayed by a character in the play – the moral being that each is merely lent to us while we abide among the living.

At one point Everyman curses his Goods, saying, "O false Goods, cursed thou be! Thou traitor to God, that hast deceived me, and caught me in thy snare."

Finally, Everyman turns to his Good Deeds in hope that they may earn him entry into the heavenly kingdom. Good Deeds, however, is born down by Everyman's sins and cannot therefore go with him.

Instead Good Deeds introduces Everyman to her sister Knowledge, who takes him to Confession so that he may be cleansed of his sins and wrapped in a robe of penance so that his Good Deeds may rise to the fore.

Together with Knowledge and his Good Deeds, Everyman summons Discretion, Strength, Beauty and Five-wits for the final stage of his life's journey. But when they come to realize that they will all be consumed in the ground as he will be, they too forsake him one by one until only his Good Deeds remain.

In the end, Everyman realizes that those things he valued most in life are but trivialities after death.

"Take example, all ye that do hear or see, how they that I loved best do forsake me, except my Good Deeds that bideth truly," states Everyman.

When the final moment of reckoning comes Everyman is welcomed into the Kingdom of Heaven by an angel sent to greet him.

While the dialogue is sometimes hard to follow, the moral of the play is quite clear and easily understood. That likely has a great deal to do with the performances of the players, which are all top notch. Jennifer Kearney turned in an especially strong performance as Everyman 1, as did Shanali Dias who played Everyman after his sins have been cleansed.

Other notable performances were turned in by Jennifer Moffat as Death and Claire Hogan as Good Deeds. In fact, the entire cast played well as an ensemble which is a testament to the teaching abilities of director Alix Sideris.

The production and performances stay true to the original 16th century text which was, is and always will be a true classic.

If you are looking for something to do on this rainy spring day I would highly recommend jumping in the car and driving down to the Orléans Theatre on Centrum Blvd. and plunking down $5 for either the 2 p.m. or 7:30 p.m. performance. You'll be glad you did.

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)

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Updated Mar. 15


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