The Great God Pan Makes Audiences Question Everything

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The Epic Theatre Company presents a story of past traumas that effect present life in Amy Herzog’s The Great God Pan

A young man’s life turns upside down when a childhood friend shares a shocking secret in The Great God Pan, a provocative and darkly humorous play being presented by Epic Theatre Company.

The show, which opened in previews on March 7 and runs through the 22nd, was written by Amy Herzog and directed by Juli Parker.

Jamie (Kevin Broccoli), a writer, has a meeting with Frank (Michael Shallcross), a gay massage therapist who he hasn’t seen in 25 years.  Frank stuns Jamie when he reveals he is filing a lawsuit against his father, who he claims sexually abused him. Frank believes Jamie was abused as well.

Jamie’s relationship with his girlfriend Paige (Allison Crews), which is already on shaky ground due to his possible sexual dysfunction, becomes more fractious after Jamie reveals Frank’s secret. Paige is a former dancer who is also a massage therapist. She wants Jamie to try to help Frank, although he is reluctant to do so.

Meanwhile, Jamie’s parents (Mary Paolino and Bradford Greer) have their own past traumas to deal with. Their marriage was on shaky ground when they left Jamie in the care of Frank’s parents – for a week.

The way the characters deal with these dilemmas forms the heart and soul of The Great God Pan.

In the play’s notes, Herzog said she is fascinated with the phenomenon of repressed memories. Jamie struggles with the knowledge that he may have been abused by Frank’s father when he was a young boy so many years ago. When he shares this information with the people in his life, they all react based on their own past experiences.

“He was a very troubled little boy,” Jamie’s mother says of Frank, who developed a drug addiction and later served time in prison for forging checks.

Whether  Jamie was ever sexually abused is kept ambiguous. His agonizing over not being able to remember exactly what happened to him as a young boy is something many audience members can identify with. If we were abused, would we repress the memories?

Another theme in the play is the way our memories become distorted over time. There is a poignant scene between Jamie and Polly (Carol Drowne) his former babysitter. Jamie recalls a sofa he sat on at Polly’s house being “scratchy.” Not surprisingly, Polly doesn’t remember it that way.

Broccoli’s performance anchors The Great God Pan. Jamie is in nearly every scene and his actions have a powerful impact on all the other characters.

The production, like other Epic Theatre shows, does not feature sets or elaborate staging. The actors are with the audience in a confined space. This has the advantage of creating a greater intimacy between performers and audience.

The Great God Pan is edgy, thought-provoking entertainment that challenges our perceptions of what we think we know about our own past.

The Great God Pan is being performed at The Artists Exchange, 50 Rolfe Square, Cranston. For tickets, call 401-490-9475.

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