It's often said that you have to understand where you've been in order to know where you're going. That philosophy not only applies to individuals, but to societies as well. And what better way to get philosophy and social commentary than to express it through jesters, old and new? In Modern Medieval, David Tyson plays Everyman, a contemporary jester with a gentle bite who travels back in time to consult with jesters from the dark ages. His show incorporates some light magic and hijinks that, were it not for the occassional bit of mature content and politics, would appeal to children of all ages. And that in itself is both good and bad.
Modern Medieval's format is such that Tyson introduces every character that Everyman encounters with an explanation of what he's getting ready to do and actively doing. Although charming the first time, this quickly loses its lustre when repeated. It's as if he's prepping each time for a magic trick at a kid's birthday party, only the adults don't need all of the exposition. The interactive portion of the show, in which he asks the audience to become participants on stage as well as in their seats, is fun, but will appeal mostly to a younger crowd. And not the cynical kids that are rising up in society today; only the ones that are okay with being young.To morph into his many characters, Tyson dons beautiful bronze masks that each represent a different emotion as well as a different relationship in his life. The characters are family members and friends that he brings life to, but rarely does his excitement rise above the level of his soft-spoken voice. The characters are also imbued with politics and commentary that affect the way Everyman looks at his present life, ranging from the homeless to the current presidential platform. There are moments when the perspectives are hidden so well that they slide right by you without being preachy; they are the true expression of the power of suggestion. Despite the magic tricks, these moments are the greatest feat of the show. Part Harry Anderson, part watered-down George Carlin, David Tyson is a good entertainer, but this show doesn't cater well to both demographics. Something's got to give. Either the antics need to be more mature to match the content, or the content needs to be more accessible to kids. A push in either direction could give this morality tale the punch that it needs.
...................................................................Under St. Mark's Theater: 94 St. Mark's Place. Tickets: $15.00
Schedule: 2/27/08 @ 10:30 pm, 2/29/08 @ 9 pm, 3/3/08 @ 9 pm, 3/8/08 @ 2:30 pm, 3/9/08 @ 1 pm