Shows P

PHILEMON A musical in 2 Acts. Music by Harvey Schmidt: Words by Tom Jones Portfolio Theatre - Off-Broadway - Opened 3rd January, 1975. Closed 26th January 1975.(12 perfs) Reopened 8 April, 1975, closed 18th May, 1975 (48 perfs) SYNOPSIS This chamber musical set in the Roman city of Antioch traces the life of the clown Cockian. Having sunk to the depths of collaborating with the Romans he redeems himself (disguised as a Christian bishop from Egypt) by allowing himself to be martyred. A small cast and simple staging recreates the concept of the mediaeval morality plays. STORY ACT ONE As the show opens, a chorus of three men and three women setup the world they are creating for the audience. Cockian, the clown, enters. He performs a variety of clown acts for the audience as a chorus of storytellers explain that he has been dead for 1700 years, and his bones are buried in the land that is now Turkey. His act is interrupted by Servillus, adjunct to the Commander of the Roman Empire. He drags Cockian over to be questioned by the Commander and Cockian charms the Commander with his acting abilities. The Commander is looking for a Christian leader, but Cockian has not seen him. The Commander sends Servillus off to continue the search. Bad luck has brought Cockian to Antioch, and The Commander is there to hunt down Christians. Neither wishes to be there - they want to go home, to Athens and Rome, respectively. They imagine those places are wonderful by comparison to Antioch . Servillus returns and informs The Commander that they have found someone who may be a Christian leader. He goes off to survey the situation, but before he goes warns Cockian that if he finds him roaming the streets again, he’ll arrest him. Cockian finds Kiki, the other half of his clown act, who admonishes him for being late. They put on a performance in the marketplace. When the act concludes, Cockian confesses to Kiki that he has been selling protection to Jews and Christians to keep them out of detention camps; his plan is backfiring, however, because the pressure is really getting on from the Jews and Christians. When they get picked on, they use his name and nobody knows who he is. He's only doing it because he needs money - for him and for Kiki. He says he loves her, but she doubts his sincerity. Finally, he reveals his true aim: he wants Kiki earn money by selling herself for just one night. He has arranged for her to meet Kalipedes, a hunchback with money. At first, she resists but when he presses the point by insisting he'll marry her, she finally agrees to meet Kalipedes. She returns shortly thereafter with the Commander and Servillus in tow. Kiki and other citizens begin accusing Cockian of a litany of crimes, including seduction, selling contraband food, and owing money. Kiki seems happy to have her revenge as she watches Servillus prepare to take Cockian to prison. However, The Commander wants to make a deal. He shows Cockian the grotesque corpse of Philemon, the wanted Christian leader. He explains now that they’ve tortured Philemon to death, they realize he would be more useful alive. If Cockian will play the role of Philemon and get the Commander information on the Christian underground railroad, the Commander will send Cockian back to Athens with money in his pockets. The Commander sees an opportunity for himself as well. Cockian immediately agrees. Cockian assumes the identity of Philemon. The Christian prisoners have never seen him before, but they can sense his presence. When Cockian arrives, a young Christian, Andos, asks for his blessing. Cockian bluffs