A Very Detailed Synopsis
In the Beginning
In the beginning there was naught. Or in our case, the actor VERRELL characterizing the concept of NAUGHT, as it’s impossible to truly portray nothing on stage, as presenting nothing on a stage is still presenting a stage, which is decidedly something.
Naught does exist alone forever.
Forever is actually very easy to portray on stage, but one tends to lose the audience, so through modern dance and video imagery Naught ultimately combines with ALL (played by PJ) to create the brief infinity of chaos, which degenerates into order, then the cosmos and blah blah blah until there is LIFE!
In the processes of biology one by-product is created, of no great concern to the universe as a whole, but of great subjective interest to this theatrical desecration!
DELTA portrays MANKIND: intelligentish, aware, looking for a sandwich!
As Mankind recognizes this specific group and arrangement of people as his specific group and arrangement of people, so is born society, and so is born THE OTHER.
A NEIGHBORING TRIBE of peoples, portrayed by REVERENT JOHN comes on the scene and smites Mankind.
Mankind smites the Neighboring Tribe backsies!
They smite each other for a while, everyone really wants that sandwich.
Other tribes and peoplessessses join in to create an orgy of smiting and flying cold-cuts.
In time the altercations subside and the peopleses have a moment to rest and reflect.
What are the stars?
What is life?
What is this group of actors doing lying around in a pile of cold cuts on stage?
Where are my socks?
This penultimate question seems the most pressing and the company chooses to answer it immediately with:
We’re here to take the piss
out of both history and myth.
A theological distortion
of biblical proportion
This number also introduces us to the half dozen actors who will portray the numerous historical and mythological characters who will be populating our stage:
We’ve already met the thuggish DELTA, VERRELL the prankster, the philosopher REVERENT JOHN, and the adorable and innocent PJ. We are now introduced to BERIA the disciplinarian, and MOSLEY the avant-garde sexpot!
THE RINGMASTER of course presides over this cascading chaos.
A Birth of A God
Returning to the scene in which Mankind’s consciousness continues to expand, the company discovers this expansion has led to the intersection of Mankind’s hope and fear, at the very edge of understanding. At this crossroads there is created a new actuality, a being greater than the component dreams of its creator:
A god is created.
Nebulous at first, a group of ANCIENT FARMERS invoke a FERTILITY GODDESS portrayed by Mosley (she gets “first dibs” on portraying all the hot goddesses). Happy to expand her purview beyond agriculture into love, the Fertility Goddess suggests she may not be the one to protect The Ancient Farmers from nearby assholes who want to steal their sandwich.
The Farmers therefore invoke a WAR GOD portrayed by DELTA (exactly his style). As society grows so do the people’s divine needs, forcing them to franchise out a whole network of gods:
What Sort of God?
What sort of god
do you need to create?
A half god hero,
or the sun incarnate?
Defender of wisdom,
and the tablets of fate.
What sort of god do you
need to make?
In this song we meet a few specific Bronze-Age gods, but the company decides that before we can introduce our titular deity YAHWEH (mmmmm “titular”) we must describe more thoroughly the second millennium B.C. world into which he was born.
The best medium for this description is apparently a glamorous Ziegfeld – style fashion -parade showstopper:
The Pageant of Ante-Hebraic Peoples
Let’s all gawk at
the peoples who
were ancient when
the Jews were new!
Here’s to the ancients!
Here’s to the ancients!
The ancients of the ancient world!
We meet the SUMERIAN EMPIRE and their epic hero GILGAMESH.
We meet the AKKADIAN EMPIRE and their semi-historical hero SARGON THE GREAT, who MOSES accuses of co-opting his origin story.
We meet the CANAANITES, who transform themselves into the PHOENICIANS and then later the PALESTINIANS.
We meet their top god EL, who ultimately transforms into Yahweh!
We meet ASHERAH, their goddess of both love and war!
We meet the god of rain and thunder BAAL, who once fucked a cow!
Now that the stage has been set, The Company again characterizes a tribe lying in consideration. Not yet a sovereign peoples, The Company is now a sub-tribe of Canaanites, dreaming of an independent Hebrew nation.
Dream, Habiru, Dream:
The Birth of “Our” God
The Habiru’s dream takes us to a modern office, much like the one from which Jerry Maguire quit.
The top god, El, presides. Another version of El, now calling himself YAHWEH, declares that he’s schisming off from the Canaanite pantheon to lead a Semitic sub-tribe to greatness! (Schism!)
No, Yahweh isn’t taking any of the rest of the pantheon with him, he’s trying out a new concept: An entire peoples worshiping a SINGLE god!
We’ll Always Have Canaan
In a fluid scene shift, Yahweh now stands on the tarmac from the final scene in Casablanca. The love goddess Asherah begs Yahweh to take her with him.
Yahweh, as Rick Blaine, refuses her:
REVERENT JOHN – YAHWEH
Last night we said a great many things. Now you’ve got to listen to me! You have any idea what you’d have to look forward to if you came with me?
Nine chances out of ten these Hebrews are gonna get their asses genocided by Canaan or Assyria or Egypt and we’d be forgotten gods!
Un – worshipped in oblivion!
Isn’t that right, Louis?
BERIA – CLAUDE RAINS
I’m afraid the Major would insist.
An airplane propeller sputters to life.
Rejected and insulted, Asherah swears revenge upon Yahweh and promises to take worship from his people. With this ominous threat ringing in the air, we shift our scene to demonstrate what it’s like for a new monotheism thrust upon the world stage of prevalent pantheons.
Escape From Pan Heaven
We’re in a maximum security, Shawshank Redemption style prison (perhaps some design elements from “Oz” just to keep it fresh). Yahweh is the “fresh fish” thrown into the yard with rival prison-gangs of pantheons. The Akkadian pantheon moves in on Yahweh:
PJ – ATARGATIS
You’re some sweet little deity, you been broke in yet?
DELTA – MARDUK
Yahweh tries to step past, they shove him around.
REVERENT JOHN – HADAD
Hard to get. I like that.
The Egyptian pantheon-prison-gang steps in and seems, for a moment, to save Yahweh’s butt from the Akkadians, but what the Egyptians have in store is worse.
So much worse.
The love goddess that Yahweh rejected back in the Casablanca scene is now personified as the powerful Isis. Yahweh should NOT have rejected her:
THE RINGMASTER – MORGAN FREEMAN
I wish I could tell you that Yahweh fought the good fight, and the Gyppos let him be.
But a meta-vaudeville style rendering of an ancient mythological gang-rape analogy is no fairy tale world.
At least I won a pack of cigarettes.
Yahweh is made the Egyptian Pantheon’s “bitch” for four hundred and thirty years.
Backed up by samples from Bob Marley and a live accordion Yahweh presents a new spokesman:
and his brother AARON (who does most of the speaking as Moses is kind of a splutterer). The trio announces, gangster-rap-style, that Yahweh is now too powerful to be held in bondage. Just like Michael Corleone takes power by knocking off the heads of other families, Yahweh has unleashed ten plagues on Egypt, “assassinating” the gods who have held him down.
PJ – YAHWEH
I’m a gangsta more original than Vito Corlenon-ee
Been down about four centuries but now you’ll learn to fear me.
I’m kinda just like Jay-Z
but my murders are not lyrical
I’m rubbin’ out your pantheon
assault by deadly miracle!
Exodus, Movement of the people!
Free from Egyptian bondage, Moses climbs Mount Sinai to receive what he believes will be The “Ten” Commandments.
Yahweh (now portrayed by the entire Company in Burning-Bush costumes) reveals that Moses will actually be receiving SIX HUNDRED and THIRTEEN commandments, or Mitzvoth:
It’s A Mitzvah
COMPANY – BURNING BUSH
To protect a maiden’s name
From men who would ra-a-a-pe
after thou rape, thou shalt marry the Ma-a-aid
And thou shalt not eat raisins
And thou shalt not eat grapes!
It’s a Mitzvah!
six one three
It’s a Mitzvah!
just a couple rules to follow,
if you wanna follow me!
As Moses comes back down the mountain, he crashes a WILD PARTY centered around the worship of a golden calf, a tribute to the love goddess Astarte, carrying out her threat of taking worship from Yahweh’s Jewish People. The luscious goddess Astarte is now backed up by her beautiful and sexy counterparts Isis and Ishtar. The trio sings that Yahweh’s religion isn’t really complete without a goddess:
PJ – ISHTAR
The people, they need someone to pray to, when they just want a piece of ass!
THE RINGMASTER – ISIS
You need a goddess,
Help you carry your load
you need a goddess
MOSLEY – ASTARTE
Let the people know
You’re not alone!
Yahweh again (somehow) rejects Astarte’s advances, but she promises she’s not done with Yahweh or his people, who have now moved into their promised land!
The timeline moves inexorably forward to 950 B.C. and we learn that the people in the northern region of Israel are still indeed worshiping gods other than Yahweh. “Wise” King Solomon of the southern region of Judaea is a good monotheist, but he’s also kind of an asshole!
He uses Israel’s polytheistic dalliances as a pretext to enslave the population and build his holy temple. This fine leadership leads to the inevitable GREAT SCHISM between Israel and Judaea:
The Great Schism
VERRELL – GEORGE CLINTON
I tell you man this is livin’
Oh you know it feels so right!
All the best wars are civil Havin’ yourself to FIIIIIGHT!
Every body’s got a filter baby
Everyone sees through their own prism
Everyone wants to get along now baby.
From the Andes to the Adriatic
VERRELL – GEORGE CLINTON
Religions prove to be schismatic!
VERRELL – GEORGE CLINTON
Whether you’re Jews or you follow Islam
I tell you your peeps are gonna have a schism!
VERRELL – GEORGE CLINTON
When Catholics turned to Protestantism
You couldn’t help but call it a schism!
The historical nation of Israel, now schismed into fragments, is vulnerable to enemies and opportunistic empires who now beset them on all sides. Thrillingly narrated in a sports montage by HOWARD COSELL, Israel and Judeah each experience the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat while attempting to fend off The Assyrian Empire,
The Babylonian Empire,
and finally THE SENATE AND PEOPLE OF ROME!
The Roman Pantheon enters and abused Yahweh badly.
Venus is particularly harsh.
The Back Page!
The not-so-big news of the Roman invasion is broken in a fast – talkin’ “His Girl Friday” style newsroom. BIGGER news is that there’s a messiah prophesied to who will come and once again unite the Jewish tribes and kick the shit out of these imperial Roman fuckers! (That’s a literal translation of the Jewish Holy Books.)
The gritty newsroom staff spins headlines as one Christ-Contender after another is defeated by the Romans.
Afraid he’s about to lose a bet THE EDITOR of the newspaper decides that THIS Christ, Jesus The Christ, is actually the victorious messiah. Claiming victory for Jesus requires re-writing the definition of “messiah,” but as a member of the mainstream media, The Editor has no trouble doing just that.
We race through another century or so in which there are no followers of Jesus the Christ who are not first and foremost Jews.
We learn about the various sects of first century Judaism in:
The Real World: Jerusalem!
It’s the true story of seven strangers each constructed to represent a different Jewish Sect in a sexy reality-show setting.
See, along with the CHRISTIANS we’ve got The SADDUCEE and the PHARISEE, who are always arguing over dogma. The SICARII and the ZEALOTS are revolutionaries who hate the Roman invaders, and the Zealot is just so… enthusiastic. The ESSENE is kind of a hippie, and SABRINA isn’t really a first century Jewish sect, but the producers put her in because she’ll show her boobs at the drop of a yarmulke.
Well, this episode opens with like, a house meeting. All the rest of the sects were all like, PISSED at the Christians because they were all rallying behind Simon bar Kokhba, an annointed leader, or messiah who promised to deliver Israel from its oppressive Roman yoke.
So the Christians were all like, duh? Why do we have to follow YOUR messiah, we’ve already GOT a messiah who promised us our kingdom in HEAVEN!
And the Zealots and the Pharisee and the Sicarii and all the other Jews were like kingdom in heaven? That’s nice but what about our kingdom right here, you know, like, Israel? If you Christians are so into your own messiah maybe you can’t be Jews any more!
And the Christians said NO WAY! And the rest of the Jews said WAY and declared the Christians heretical and kicked him out of the house and the Christians ended up cursing out the rest of the Jews as they dragged an overstuffed steamer trunk down a lonely road while “Everybody Hurts” by REM played in the background.
After a barely relevant Pigmeat Markham scenette, The Ringmaster gets to chat with Yahweh himself, complimenting the deity on how much better He’s looking since He’d previously come down with that case of (ugh)Romans! Yahweh is kind enough to share his remedy:
Jesus the Christ did indeed serve his original function in overthrowing the Romans, it just took a little time!
Cut to The Emperor Constantine converting the Roman world to Christianity in the end of the fourth century A.D.
Within seventy-five years the western Roman Empire is smashed to oblivion by waves of barbarian invasions.
Though Rome has fallen, Christianity still reigns throughout Europe.
Willie Dixon’s classic “Back Door God” scores the above scene.
The Roman Pantheon is marched before Yahweh in chains. The Triumph of the victor Yahweh, his will to show mercy or vengeance.
Perhaps it’s his newfound parenthood that’s softening the old god up, but instead of annihilating the pantheon who used him so poorly, Yahweh assimilates them into HIS cosmology:
Jupiter as Christ King of Heaven,
Apollo as Christ Light of the World,
Mars as vengeful teabag warrior Christ.
While Venus is assimilated as both Pure Virgin Mary and Sexy Saint Mary Magdeline, the company sings The Association’s Along Comes Mary in a hippie baccanalia!
What Sort of Christ?
As we enter our rock anthem finale, the world is returned to the new status quo. The long ages of many gods are over, replaced by a new, single deity worshipped in many forms, some barely recognizable to each other.
The song is a musical reprise of the first act’s What Sort of God?
We’ve got any Christ that you wanna buy.
From a rock star Jesus,
To the sun in the sky!
Bobble head Jesus,
or Jesus on rye!
What sort of Christ do you wanna buy?
Have just one Jesus, or a dozen Jesi
What sort of Christ do you wanna buy?