Fringe Review: ‘Jesus le Momo’

Photo courtesy of JR Foley & Hilary Kacser

“No, I will not waste on you a scream,” Monsieur ‘le Momo’ tells a terrified woman cowering before his restless spirit. Written by JR Foley and directed by Adi Stein, JESUS le MOMO is one of the headier, stranger, brasher shows playing now at the Capital Fringe Festival.

My interest was definitely piqued by the show’s description, depicting it as some kind of philosophical clash between famously “mad” playwright Antonin Artaud and what I could only guess would be his most extreme opposite, a commune of religious devotees led by some sort of priest. Le MOMO despises his devotees’s insistence that they need divine intervention to help achieve his resurrection. He pounds them over and over again with the assertion that all beings who live do so from their own volition. I personally enjoy plays that examine philosophy, as they have a way of getting across concepts that are not nearly as tangible through simple reading. Plus, they bring out enormous creativity from those daring enough to stage them. I have to say, though, this one was just a little over my head—but I’m all right with that.

…one of the headier, stranger, brasher shows playing now at the Capital Fringe Festival.

First and foremost, the small cast was excellent; they were a fine-tuned machine that seemed to really know each other. Every beat, every exchange, and every cross was in perfect harmony; at least, that’s how it felt to me. I think the casting choices were excellent. Liz Salamon was simply brilliant as Le MOMO; there’s simply no better word for the way she portrayed a male character, while speaking in such a fluid, torrid French accent. The only downside was I understood about 60% of what I heard. It was enjoyable to watch and listen to, and it was more than the accent; she must have been channeling the madness somehow. Le MOMO in this production is just frightening enough to be kin to Dracula, and just fun and mischievious enough to be kin to Puck. Bravo! I found Paul (Sean Sidbury) to be very funny. The same goes for all of the actors; they were funny and believable at the same time, and established distinctive identities in such a short amount of time. One can tell they enjoyed doing this production very much.

If you go to see JESUS le MOMO—and I do recommend seeing it—just know that seeing the play alone will probably not be enough to appreciate what it has to say. If you know something about Artaud already, which I did not, you’re probably in good shape. If you don’t, and you’re anything like me, you’ll come away wanting to look him up first thing and find out all about his “Theatre of Cruelty;” it is fascinating. For those of us who like plays that require a little bit of intellectual muscle-flexing, this is a great show.

Running Time: About 45 minutes.

Advisory: This show contains profanity and is not recommended for children.

JESUS le MOMO plays through July 28, 2012 at The Bedroom at Fort Fringe, 610 L St. NW DC. For tickets, purchase them online or at the venue before the show.

About Erica Shadowsong

Erica Shadowsong has spent a lot of her time looking for ways to combine her loves of the performing arts, literature, and world cultures in both her professional and personal life. She received a B.A. in English from George Mason University in 2002, and went on to study folklore in graduate school, where she discovered professional storytelling. When not working at her day job, she finds opportunities to perform as a storyteller and vocalist. She also sings with a local choir called the Six Degree Singers, and sometimes finds time to read for pleasure and write.