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MERCY SEAT Compass Center for the Performing Arts/American Repertory Theatre of WNY
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Feb 22, 2023, 11:32
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Through March 11
MERCY SEAT Compass Performing Arts Center/American Repertory Theatre of WNY

If you have ever been in one of those tent evangelism sessions, there is a power to what goes on in spreading what’s usually evangelical Christianity.
That’s particularly true on those steamy summer nights when the preacher really excites the congregation, night after night.
ART of Western New York is trying to capture that spirit in “Mercy Seat, the stage of what was TheatreLoft.
The show is built around the music of Aussie musician Nick Cave.
To give you an idea, his band is called The Bad Seeds.
There are certainly some in “Mercy Seat,” an aggregation of shorter plays from a group of local writers.
While there are a number of segments in the show, from different local writers, the show is dominated by Trevor Dugan’s Preacher, particularly in the second act.
The gimmick is that he isn’t a Christian preacher, instead from the Church of the Non-Interventionism, helpful when angels Paige Batt and Cassidy Granchelli show up to judge him in Matthew Boyle’s “Weighing of Truth.”
The premise is that the church wants to help troubled people, especially those who are criminals looking for a way out.
All of this uses Cave’s music, particularly “The Carnival is Over.”
Aggregations of short playlets aren’t unknown around here.
Some are like the Alleyway’s “Buffalo Quickies,” which are about all kinds of things.
Others are like last year’s ART production “Fall from the Grace of God.”
That was also an aggregated show, with similar problems to “Mercy.”
That’s because the sections are written by different people and directed by different people.
“Mercy” is a little uneven because of those different writers, directors and actors.
However, Preacher is threaded through all of it and ties much of it together, overcoming some of the differences.
It’s overall a strong cast, with lots of movement off the bench and onto center stage.
That’s why “Mercy Seat” is entertaining, educational and really worth seeing.

A.W.

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