by Richard Hinojosa · August 13, 2014
His Majesty, the Devil is an exquisite play. The fusion of the music and the language set my soul adrift among the notes and letters. I was transported. The program states that the play is “inspired by Dostoyevsky.” That statement alone is rather vague, but once you delve deeper into the heart of the play, you begin to understand the connections (if you are familiar with the seminal Russian author’s work). It certainly depicts the darker side of life’s choices but it never falls prey to becoming gloomy. It very cleverly represents the humor and beauty in Dostoyevsky’s work and life in general.
One of the most heartwarming details of this production is that it is a family affair. The playwright, Alexandra Devon, is mother to the actor and composer, Colin Pip Dixon and wife to the lead actor, MacIntyre Dixon. Sadly, Devon passed away in 2010, but her legacy lives on through this play as much as it does through her family and this tribute to her life and work. The play deals with themes such as free will, good versus evil, and despair versus hope. It skims the surface of existentialism and Kierkegaardian irrationalism but whenever it begins to grow too heavy with philosophy turns on a dime and pulls the lightest humor from the darkest places. Devon’s dialogue is astute, compelling and provocative. The pace is rather slow but you won’t really notice because there is so much to contemplate. Director Mathilde Schennen sets this production on low and lets it simmer. She quite brilliantly stages the play as far downstage as the space allows creating an intimate environment where connections are more likely.
Composer/actor Colin Pip Dixon portrays The Young Man as a cynical and somewhat bitter man who is incensed by all the injustice in the world. He can’t make a leap of faith. He can only stand with logic and is confused by emotion. Dixon also plays the violin intermittently throughout the play along with a man billed as The Shadow, Arnaud Ghillebaert, who accompanies him on viola. The melodies they play are haunting and beautiful. It is in these moments that the production becomes delicate and piercing.
MacIntyre Dixon plays The Visitor (who is revealed to be the Devil – and that’s not giving anything away because it’s obvious from the get-go), in a manner that is most unexpected. He is kind and playful as well as cultured. He really wants to be accepted as he is. He is not the bad guy everyone makes him out to be, he’s just been left holding the bag when things go wrong. Deep down he wants to live a simple life. He wants to be a “big bosomed farmer’s wife.” Dixon is an astonishingly fine actor. He carries the play with ease. The character he creates is truly unforgettable.
His Majesty, The Devil is a show you won’t soon forget either. It uses the power of music and inspiration to create moments of theatre that will take your breath away.