One Yellow Rabbit's High Performance Rodeo is well-known for its provocative offerings but on the surface level, Faithless appears to be somewhat subdued. Armed with only two chairs and a blanket, performers and co-writers Christopher Craddock and Steve Pirot are left to their own devices to create a sincere and engaging show.
But the simplicity of the production ceases with the sparse stage, Faithless delves into such contentious issues as religion and the afterlife.
"It's kind of a Jacob's Ladder type thing, sort of a rumination on what sort of memories that might run through a person's mind at the time of their death," explains Craddock, artistic director of Edmonton's Rapid Fire Theatre.
Set apart from the other participants in the High Performance Rodeo with its particularly irreverent and cheeky material, the show comes with an unusual cast of about thirty characters, which only Craddock and Pirot play.
"It's not your average piece of theatre. It's quite strange and quite physical and at times profane, especially if you're religious. I'm a bit blasphemous in a lot of my work," admits Craddock.
Certainly provoking in its confrontation of some of the major tenets of Christianity, Craddock acknowledges that personal experience most definitely helped the production take shape. Many of his views on the subject come from certain incidents in his life, including different reactions to the death of his grandparents.
"Faithless does question one of the big unfortunate loopholes that we see in Christianity, that you turn to religion for comfort in the face of death, really," expounds Craddock. "Fundamentalist Christians are often in the unfortunate position of being that way themselves, but having family members that aren't. Their loved ones pass on and they have no choice but to believe that they're languishing in hell for forever and ever and ever. And I've seen it happen and frankly, it really bothers me."
In combination with his own experience, his recent amicable split with the Edmonton-based theatre company Azimuth helped spawn the creation of the play.
"I had some artistic balls in the air when I left and Faithless was one of them. We created it with [One Yellow Rabbit] in mind and the relationship sort of sprung up over a like-mindedness at the Edmonton International Fringe Festival. There was just a simpatico of ideas and technique."
According to Craddock, the festival circuit is one of the most valuable artistic forums at hand today, as well as a great place to showcase the premiere of Faithless.
"Festivals in Canada now, I think, are the best place to put up alternative work and I think the Rodeo's been leading the pack for years. [Faithless] is one of those funny-sad shows you'd expect One Yellow Rabbit to be involved in."
The sardonic and distinctive wit typical of One Yellow Rabbit certainly does not escape Craddock. In light of the season of resolution, Craddock wryly promotes the play as a catch-all remedy.
"Faithless is innovative and funny and profane so you should come and see it. It will assist you in your romantic relationship and help you lose weight."
Such an assumption might be rather lofty, but it's certain that Faithless will inform, entertain and leave you with something to think about at the end of the night.