Last January, singer-songwriter Mike Doughty wrote to us with a creative New Year’s resolution: to write a rock opera based on the Book of Revelation. “It is an absolutely terrifying, monster-movie, psychedelic tale of destruction, and the language is so beautiful, it is so bizarre and wonderful,” Doughty told Kurt Andersen. “I thought, with the right music, and the right actors declaiming the text, and the right visuals, it would be a great show.”The staging was static - the three instrumentalists in back, the four vocalists at microphones in front - and a propulsive club beat and a near-chanting style helped provide a unity of sound for over an hour.
It was the psychedelic visuals projected behind the musicians and appearing on smaller screens throughout the room that really made the show. The simple black-and-white line drawings illustrated various beasts and scenes and highlighted specific words and numbers from the Book of Revelation. They constantly flashed and fluctuated and pulsed, but unfortunately most of my camera phone pictures came out blank.
|Yes, the figure in back is covered with eyes.|
18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. 19 And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll.Revelation 22:18-19 New International Version (NIV)
|Beast with seven horns and seven eyes|
|Doughty suggests that John's seeming obsession with numbers bordered on Asperger's syndrome|
Amber Gray brought a wonderful intensity to the role of The Word/The Angel. Her widened eyes, flawless skin, and prominent cheekbones all contributed to helping her look the part.
|On the left: Amber Gray, playing The Word/The Angel.|
|Mike Doughty, playing John the Revelator|
Doughty explained afterward that he has long been intrigued by the Book of Revelation, which seems to have inspired many of the heavy metal bands he loved in his teenage years. His own conclusion, as shared during the Q&A session, is that Christianity is all about vengeance.
Of course, individual conclusions may vary.
FN* They being Monty Python, in this particular instance.