In Matthew Barbot’s historical metadrama, 18-year-old Carlo Contadino (baby-faced Rory Keane), an aspiring actor and priest-in-training, is imprisoned in Rome, where, with the help of Genesius (Cody Magouirk), “patron saint of actors, clowns and lawyers,” he must reenact the Cadaver Synod. In case your 9th-century ecclesiastical history is rusty, that's the bizarre hearing that posthumously tried Pope Formosus—whose body was dug up, dressed in papal regalia and “voiced” by a young deacon—for rising illegally to the holy position…at least according to his successor, Pope Stephen VI. To stage the trial, Carlo and Genesius draw costumes from a chest while sharing thoughts about theater and faith. Despite the macabre setup, the talented Keane and Magouirk win laughs by poking fun at the supposed all-knowingness of self-contradicting clerics. But however adept the actors are, the production’s minimalism leads to difficulty distinguishing among characters and following the multilayered plot, most of which is revealed in the epilogue. While undoubtedly original, Barbot’s script may be overly ambitious, considering the frequent need to explain major points by breaking the fourth wall.—Anny Kim
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