Seven Deadly Sins on Lincoln Road (Review)

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When life gives lemons to Michel Hausman, Creative Director of Miami New Drama (MND), he makes theater.   MND is the resident company at Miami Beach’s Colony Theatre, (1040 Lincoln Road) whose musical and engaging Louis Armstrong bio-play was forced to close after its opening night on Friday March 13, 2020, as our now constant companion COVID -19 began adding its own peculiar drama to our lives.  Hausman’s response, Seven Deadly Sins, combines economics, technology, and art to create an evening of live theater on Lincoln Road that will be remembered as much for logistical ingenuity as it will be for artistic creativity.

In six vacant storefronts and the Colony’s loading dock, Hausman and his collaborators have fashioned an evening of theater that reconciles the need to stay safe during the pandemic with our human need to experience art.

A ticket to Seven Deadly Sins is a wrist band designating your group and your seat at each performance space.  The groups then rotate clockwise to each short play, moving along Lincoln Road, landing in front of another vacant storefront, mind you, vacant due to the pandemic’s enduring economic hardships. Also keep in mind, Lincoln Road is open and people are idly walking by. It’s surreal.

Seven Deadly Sins

The seven short plays each represent one of the seven deadly sins. At your seat theater goers plug headphones in to hear each performance, which takes place behind the store window. Seating is socially distanced, sanitized between users and appears CDC compliant.

The evening begins where, given my Catholic upbringing, I was sure my life would end: in Purgatory — the waystation between our mortal lives and heavenly fulfillment, where we burn off the minor transgressions of earthly life.  In this version, fortunately, drinks are sold, and a soulful singer chases down familiar songs warning of the consequences of some of our most preferred activities.

For the record, the list of Pride, Greed, Lust, Wrath, Gluttony, Envy, and Sloth was compiled by Pope Gregory I around the year 600, according to Bibleinfo.com. We all have our favorites.

In Purgatory we are met by “Virgil,” our guide to the underworld.  Seven dramatists, some of the best working playwrights in America, have chosen modern characters to embody each sin.  We meet a white academic feigning African American identity, a sex worker in Amsterdam helping a customer find love, and a disgraced president plotting a return to power.  A concert pianist is confronted by a past lover; a sister addresses her greedy brother.

Two spoke to me powerfully: a Confederate statue reminding us who we might be, and a New Yorker sharing how the pandemic has intensified her loneliness.

The seven plays, the sets and the logistics create an artistic experience we have never seen before, prompted by a global phenomenon we hope never to see again. Each voice is different and very human; each will likely connect with different audience members.  If you, like me, are craving a safe place to enjoy a sin or two, I recommend Seven Deadly Sins on Lincoln Road.

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Timothy F. Schmand

Timothy F. Schmand is the author of the novel Just Johnson.