Satan and his angels rebelled against God in heaven, and proudly presumed to try their strength with his. And when God, by his almighty power, overcame the strength of Satan, and sent him like lightning from heaven to hell with all his army; Satan still hoped to get the victory by subtlety .
~ Theologian Jonathan Edwards, in his 1733 sermon
Wisdom Displayed in Salvation
The Book of Revelation says the war in heaven is a battle between the righteous and evil. A fierce leader called the Archangel Michael fights against the fallen angels that God casts out for deliberate disobedience. They are thrown in a blazing river of fire, probably shouting out to its failed leader Satan, or better known as simply the
Devil. Actor and playwright Angelo Michael Masino flips the script on the original tale and creates a new plausible version that is just as intense.
In this adaptation, the world is in need of both Mary and Joseph (wonderfully played by Phylicia Wissa and Michael Panarello). The couple is at a loss with the birth of their new baby, the New Christ. The adult Jesus (Austen Michael Rey is hysterical) turned alcoholic and his girlfriend Mary M. (Loree Sobrito) listen to the wise advice of the Archangel Michael (Masino), whom Mary lovingly calls him Mr. Moreno and the amusing evilness of both Damien (Dave Buzzotta) and daddy Lucifer (William Goldman).
You were given free will so we can make the world a better place.
~ Michael to Mary and Joseph
The adult Jesus ran into some major both psychological and physical problems. He walks around wearing worn old jeans, a tattered robe with a skewed ball cap, with a doom and gloom expression and spews hopeless quotes about the fate of the world and the morose people in it. The angel Gabriel (wonderfully played by Koushik) does his best to prop up his pal up but it’s futile. The fallen Jesus is having none of it. This is not the Jesus that all we knew as a child, and remember to bring up his name when something goes wrong in our lives. This fallen Jesus turns to the woman who was severely slandered for her alleged whorish ways. Mary M. understands him and is predicemtn. She is his rock when he desperately needs it. Mary and Joseph are willing to help the Archangel Michael who doesn’t take any nonsense or foolishness from anyone else. He is brave to go up against Damien and father Lucifer and not back down. Enter the sultry Lilith (the mesmerizing Yasemin Isil) who comes to seduce Michael. She makes a good pitch that evil is fine but, is turned down. She promises that she will carry the New Christ with Michael’s help. Until that happens, Mary finds herself pregnant and is not happy about it. Joseph, of course, is thrilled that Mary will birth the new Christ. Suddenly, things are looking up. Until, Lucifer gives an eloquent speech on why evil shall win. He said, “it’s pure and there are no misunderstandings.”
Greed is the new God. Evil is a beautiful thing.
Michael, in the meantime, has other problems besides fighting for the good in heaven and Lilith’s seduction, Lucifer keeps telling the Archangel to lay down his sword and join him in the battle. We all know that’s not going to happen. It goes against the principle that Michael believes. It’s his faith that keeps other grounded. He reminds his circle of people that they cannot give up no matter how badly things are looking and becoming. He looks at Jesus all tattered and torn and sees how the world has broken his heart for lack of faith.
This version is blatantly honest and sensitive. Masino does an excellent job in separating the good vs the bad but still manages to interwoven shades of grey when a subject matter becomes neither black nor white. That’s when great conversations come forth and bring out not an answer but another way of looking at things from another’s perspective. The characters are sensitive and speak poignantly. A truly moving story with a well-thought out message of the balance, or imbalance of good and evil.
The War in Heaven plays Fridays, March 11th and 18th, and Saturday, March 19th, all at 8 p.m., at 2nd Story Theatre, located at 710 Pier Avenue, in Hermosa Beach. For reservations, call (310) 374-9767.