“The History of the Devil” – Nearly Naked Theatre

This review aired on KBAQ April 13, 2015


Nearly Naked Theatre, The Hardes Theatre at Phoenix Theatre
Phoenix, AZ

Wordy British playwright Clive Barker has written a verbose, obnoxious, and talky script called “The History of the Devil.”  Barker uses the premise that people blame their actions and decisions on the Devil’s behind-the-scenes manipulation of situations.  The play implies you can justify all things that go wrong in your life on the Devil’s actions.  This theme is an easy excuse to justify any stumbling block in a person’s life so they can pass on their own responsibility for decisions they make.

Talk about pretentious claptrap and when the Nearly Naked Theatre production by artistic director Damon Dering is bland, monotonous, and uninteresting, even decent acting by an eleven person ensemble who essay 35 diverse characters fairly well can’t make the play into viable theater.  “The History of the Devil” is a three-hour bore that wanders, meanders, and drags on and on as it tries unsuccessfully to relate all human actions to the Devil’s influence.

The Devil is portrayed as a suave, man-about-town.  We meet people who essay various situations that the Devil manages.  Once they realize his control and their lack of influence over their own lives, the play gets very repetitious.  “The History of the Devil” ambles on and on and what looked enticing in early production announcements, plays out as tedious monotony.  “The History of the Devil” fails to pull in audiences so nobody cares much about the mindless chatter that Barker is a master at creating.

Beyond the dull and poorly written play, much of the problem lies in director Dering’s rambling production that he never lets catch the fire it must have to entrance audiences.  David Nelson bounds on stage initially as the Devil and tries, without success, to bring the play the energy it lacks by using the Devil’s tricky malarkey to spice things up.  But neither Nelson’s commanding performance nor the hard-working efforts of the rest of the ensemble are enough to keep things interesting.  There’s nothing distinguished about the physical production so there’s little visual interest to pull the audience into the play.  Be warned that the play contains nudity.

The opening night audience gave the production polite but short applause and quickly left at the play’s conclusion.  Many were commenting upon exiting that the play “wasn’t their cup of tea.”  “The History of the Devil” continues through April 25.  For tickets, call the Phoenix Theatre box office at 602-254-2151 or order tickets online at www.nearlynakedtheatre.org.

Grade: D

One Response to ““The History of the Devil” – Nearly Naked Theatre”

  1. Dan Fisher said:

    Apr 21, 15 at 18:07

    I totally disagree the play was wonderful only thing it was a bit too long. All the actors were great with the loads of lines they had.

    Wonderful production