On a darkened stage, a shaft of light illuminates a large, heavy cross. A man in his early thirties stands before the cross. He is worse for wear — as we learn, he has just watched his lover die. In a desolate and utterly riveting monologue, he speaks to the empty cross, ranging through grief, guilt, sex, and revulsion at religion.
This is obviously someone who long ago gave up any relationship to Christ. He spews out his doubt and the bitterness of his broken faith, relating in anecdotes from his childhood a growing desire for other men and, finally, the flustering secret that this nude figure on the cross has always turned him on. Shame! Removing his clothes and standing naked before Christ he admits that he has always wanted to be loved just as he is. He reveals his deep desire to free Jesus from the cross, end his pain, and care for him. He proceeds to take down the unseen crucified body from the cross to comfort in his arms. With this, the stage goes dark.
When the lights come up, startlingly, the same actor is embodying Jesus hanging from the cross. In a monologue delivered in a voice of unconditional love and forgiveness, he responds to the man, dealing with each issue from a higher perspective. Jesus loves beyond shame, imploring the man to accept his forgiveness. By the act of releasing him from the cross, they become one.
SHAME pits eroticism against religion. This ancient and seminal controversy gets a frank airing, basic contradictions being brought to the fore with disarming innocence and raw emotion. As a love story between man and God, there are a number of traps this play could fall into – sentimentality or sensationalism, to name the obvious ones. But, uncannily, eros, philia, and agape mix with the barest Christianity into a Genet-like amalgam that will shock homophobic Christians and Christophobic homos and possibly everyone in-between, and will take many people into a radical new reality.
Shame is the devastating force behind almost all psychological suffering. It is at the core of alienation, self-condemnation and addiction. This play is fundamental, meeting shame head on with the simple but radical message of true forgiveness, a spiritual prescription that has such power because it is psychologically acute. This is substantiated by the many who have pulled themselves out of the slough of despair by saying yes to themselves through gay pride and other liberation movements, through programs like the twelve steps, teachings like A Course in Miracles, and through Christianity itself.
A one character play about forgiveness and the realization of the Divine. Created by Stephen Morey and Paul Rebillot. See synopsis below.
Average download time: 10 minutes
Playtime: 1 hour 15 minutes