Paradise Lost (Frigid Festival 2011)

By John Milton; Performed and Directed by Paul Van Dyck

Read more of Theasy's Frigid reviews here.


Off Off Broadway, Solo Show

Runs through 3.6.11

UNDER St. Marks, 94 St. Marks Place


BOTTOM LINE: John Milton's classic poem comes alive in this spirited solo show.

How I wish Paul Van Dyck's one-man performance of John Milton's 17th century poem "Paradise Lost" had existed during my days as an English major. For Van Dyck turns an arduous English literature class reading into sexy, sinful fun, bringing the classic work alive with CGI animation, puppetry, the Rolling Stones, and ceaseless passion. I found myself surprisingly riveted by Van Dyck's inspired performance that truly brings alive Milton's vision.

The focus of "Paradise Lost" is the biblical tale of Adam and Eve's original sin. Van Dyck uses puppets for the characters of Adam and Eve. He takes on the roles of God, Satan, an angel, and Satan as a serpent, cleverly using the stage's white curtains as both the serpent's coil
and as the angel's wings. As the puppets do not have movable faces, he also uses his own expressions to convey those of Adam and Eve. Bars of classic rock accompanied by computer animated flames and Van Dyck's versatile voice bring Satan to life.

Van Dyck makes successful use of animation and video to augment moments in the script, such as a montage video to give Adam a view of his life outside of paradise and animated trees in the Garden of Eden, which Eve visits after hitching a ride on the serpent's back. The use of snippets of classic rock also serve to give further drama to the work's most pivotal moments: "Paint it Black" plays after Adam and Eve get their first taste of the apple from the Tree of Knowledge.

Van Dyck's theatrical skill, along with the use of multimedia, successfully make Milton's somewhat impenetrable work accessible and appealing to a larger audience. Van Dyck transforms this classic work with just a small stage and minimal props, giving testament to his undeniable talent.

(Paradise Lost plays at Under St. Marks, 94 St. Mark's Place, through March 6, 2011. Remaining performances are Monday, February 28th at 10:30PM; Friday, March 4th at 10:30PM; and Sunday, March 6th at 7PM. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at For more festival information visit