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The Gospel According to Thomas Jefferson, Charles Dickens and Count Leo Tolstoy: Discord

  • Theater, Comedy
  • 1 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

1 out of 5 stars

Theater review by Helen Shaw

Scott Carter's maddeningly dull Discord is the play a college kid writes after reading No Exit and wondering if people get—like really get—that faith is tricky. To be clear, Carter isn't a sophomore; he's an award-winning executive producer of television shows (currently Real Time With Bill Maher) who did a one-man show 30 years ago. Effectively and aesthetically, though, that amounts to the same thing.

Carter's plot is right there in the title. Jefferson (Michael Laurence), Tolstoy (Thom Sesma) and Dickens (Duane Boutté) find themselves locked in a featureless office purgatory, bewildered about how to get out. They exchange trivia (“I had 8,000 books!”—Jefferson), drop on-the-nose references to their famous works (“As your Scrooge would say…you are humbug”—Tolstoy) and discover a shared interest in rewriting the Bible. They bicker over translation and points of order, only to find that what they truly have in common is a history of sin in their private lives.

After a few confessions, delivered with maximum self-importance, the dead celebs pick up notepads and, as projected stage directions inform us, “write.” What are they writing? Another gospel? Further revelations? This play? It's unclear, but at least it points to the end of the show: salvation and release, for them and for us. A door swings open in a puff of divine smoke, and at that point, on the night I saw Discord, a furious Brooklyn voice rose up out of the audience: “Finally! We can all go home!” Ah, New York. God bless us, every one.

Cherry Lane Theater (Off Broadway). By Scott Carter. Directed by Kimberly Senior. With ensemble cast. Running time: 1hr 30mins. No intermission. Through October 22.

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Written by
Helen Shaw


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