Fringe 2019 Review: ‘Church of Saint Bearer’

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With its compact cast and claustrophobic indoor setting, George Romero’s seminal Night of the Living Dead has always seemed tailor-made for a stage adaptation. Now, a couple years after the zombie pop-culture craze peaked, playwright Irene L. Pynn has grafted that iconic film’s basic concept onto a reality-bending examination of religious faith in the uneven but intriguing immersive drama, Church of Saint Bearer.
Brett Carson stars as Mentor Higgins, a priest struggling to keep his congregation safe from the unexplained plague that has infected 15% of the population. While Higgins’ hyper-rational religious texts insist that the undead can’t really be standing outside his sanctuary doors, teen parishioner Victor Index (Malakai Green) attempts to make his confessor accept that the apocalypse is nigh, at least in their corner of the multiverse.
For haunted house fans, director Robert Cunha (who collaborated with Pynn on last year’s award-winning Enter, Pursued By A Whale) delivers a spattering of juicy gore and some spooky surround-sound jump-scares in the dark, with the aid of the limber Moesha Searight as a 28 Days Later-esque flesheater. However, most of the horrors are psychological, and while the plot faithfully follows the typical Walking Dead trope of community quickly crumbling into fratricidal violence, the author really seems more interested in the theological details of Higgins’ off-kilter dogma. Carson chews his brainy dialogue with abandon, and the show occasional achieves peaks of hysterical intensity. I only wish the enigmatic ending landed with a little more impact.

Church of Saint Bearer

Renie and Rob Productions
Altamonte Springs FL
Yellow Venu
Ages 18 and up
60 minutes
Thursday, May 16th 7:15 PM
Saturday, May 18th 9:15 PM
Wednesday, May 22nd 7:15 PM
Friday, May 24th 5:30 PM
Saturday, May 25th 3:30 PM
Sunday, May 26th 10:45 PM  

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