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After I played Assassin’s Creed (the first one, which isn’t as good as the second one), I got interested in the middle ages. I read a long, boring academic book on the Crusades. This, in turn, got me interested in Constantinople (the only interesting parts of the book were about that city). So I have been reading up on Constantinople, and listening to podcasts, etc. It’s been well over a year since I finished Assassin’s Creed, but I still haven’t completed all my reading and study on Constantinople. This is one reason I don’t play very many videogames. They require too much sustained intellectual effort.

I was accidentally a little more primed for this play than I would have been otherwise, though, thanks to all that reading.

The Seige of Constantinople, unknown painter, ca. 1499

The main characters of MvSMTTF (I don’t want to type the whole title, sorry) were Crusaders from Austria called in to defend the “Holy City” of Constantinople (it was to Eastern Orthodox Christianity as Rome is to Catholics today) from the invading Turks. The Turks, by the way, did actually succeed in conquering the city, and renaming it “Istanbul,” which is something I also knew, from my extensive study of World War II-era swing. Anyway. These particular Crusaders, cut off from the main force of Christian defenders by chance, made a brutal and magical discovery: they could eat the bodies of human beings, prepared in a particular way, and live forever. So they’re sort of like vampires.

The play opens in contemporary times. Michael and Sammy, two of the cannibal Crusaders, have immigrated to the US. Their grift works like so: Sammy charms the women and sets them up on a “date” with Michael, who poisons them, prepares their bodies, and shares the meat with Sammy. Michael is haunted by ghosts who variously want him to give up and die, and/or go to Instanbul and reconquer it for “Christendom.”

Sammy came off as gay to me, which was weird given his role in the grift, as the seducer of women, but I also enjoyed watching him and looked forward to the times he was on stage. Micah Stock, who played him, was the star of the show, in my book. But maybe that’s just because I thought he was cute. The whole cast was good.

Overall MvSMTTF was a goofy lark. It reminded me of a comic book. Now, please note: that is not a dismissal. I say that with more actual understanding of what “comic book” means than a lot of people writing reviews of things when they say that those things reminded them of comic books, if I do say so myself. I actually read comic books. It reminded me in particular of the kind of humor/horror comic books that have been kind of popular in indie circles lately, like Eric Powell’s The Goon: high concept married to complete shamelessness and kitsch-lessness in its execution of The Silly and the Serious.

If I have a specific complaint, it’s that Germanic mispronunciations of English words are funny, but not as funny as the playwright seems to think they are — or at least, aren’t all that particularly funny after the twentieth or thirtieth time they are repeated.

Overall, though, the play was kind of a palate cleanser: a good break from the earnest fare of most the rest of the Festival. I enjoyed it, but I’m afraid that I will have forgotten about it by this time next year.

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