Arts & Events

New: AROUND AND ABOUT: Theater Review: 'Adoration of the Magi'--Inferno Theatre at South Berkeley Community Church

By Ken Bullock
Tuesday December 13, 2011 - 09:54:00 PM

"When I was young, I was enchanted with the night. They made me stare into a basin of water and asked me, What do you see?"

Giulio Perrone's Inferno Theatre, after offering up theatrical originals like 'Galileo's Daughters' and 'The Iliad' at the City Club, are staging one of the more original holiday shows, from material used for over a millennium. Jasper (Simone Bloch), Balthasar (Valentina Emeri) and Melchiar (Priscilla Parchia) witness the star of the Epiphany, meet one another, show their gifts, tell their stories and journey together from the East to Judea, meeting with Herod (Alison Sacha Ross) in Jerusalem: "I am so cold, and the moon warms me not"--to find the divine child of peace, heralded also by Virgil's Fourth Eclogue, encountering festivity along the way. 

Displaying their prowess in physical theater, they are joined by trapeze artist Sarah Kaminshine and musician Alejandro Chavez (who goes back and forth between instruments and musical cultures, in particular playing flamenco guitar to Kaminshine's dancing and acrobatics)--and a chorus of students from Inferno's youth drama program at Fruitvale's Manzanita Seed Elementary School. 

'Adoration' touches on much surrounding the story of Christ's birth, surrounded by beasts and pagan admirers who cast his horoscope. Besides Virgil's verses and Mesopotamian astrology, there's allusion to Herod's reaction to the predictions, the Massacre of the Innocents. Perrone remarks in the program that Matthew is the sole canonical Gospel to mention the visit of the Magi, represented as three because of the three gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh ... and that their title refers to the caste of Zoroastrian priests from Persia. 

It's a brisk show, alternating the movement of journeys and celebration with quieter moments of reflection and tale-telling. A show meant to appeal to families, to lovers of different cultures--and theater. 

"It is midnight. We are here--or there--or anywhere ... and at the beginning." 

Thursday, December 15 at 8; Friday the 16th at 9; Saturday the 17th at 8; Sunday the 18th at 5; Thursday-Friday the 22nd and 23rd at 8; Sunday the 24th at 3. At historic South Berkeley Community Church, 1802 Fairview (west of Adeline, near Ashby BART). $12-$24, sliding scale. Reservations: 355-2279;;