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2023-2024 SeasonScenes from an Execution

Things To Do in Pittsburgh This Weekend

By April 17, 2024April 18th, 2024No Comments
Actors on a stage

Pittsburgh Magazine – Top Pick: Art and Agony in Allentown, as Quantum Presents “Scenes From an Execution”.

The community development organization Abiding Missions provides an excellent, if unexpected, home for Quantum Theatre’s “Scenes From an Execution.”

The nonprofit is housed in the former Bethlehem Lutheran Church, where audiences enter through a street-level event space. Photos of smiling children and flyers advertising community services line the walls. Upstairs, however, a gorgeous cathedral nestles the stage and seating area — and turns, over the course of the show, from a peaceful sanctuary into a desolate prison. Early on, sunset streams through stained-glass windows; an hour later, the scene is choked by darkness.

It’s a fitting environment for a story of downfall. The (mostly fictional) painter Galactia (Lisa Velten Smith, raging and rambunctious) is commissioned to paint a giant mural depicting a military victory; much to the dismay of her patrons, she dismisses the alleged glory of combat and creates a shocking depiction of violence. (We see her work only in the reactions to it; we’re left to imagine the gory details.) Her defiance, particularly in light of her rarity as a female painter in 1500s Italy, enrages the powers that be — with definite, but unexpected, consequences.

No character in “Scenes From an Execution” is uniformly likable, though all are played with compelling life; the cast is excellent. The audience is left to consider a buffet of flawed people doing things for complex reasons — just like real life.

Director Andrew William Smith, with the aid of a sharp design team, crafts memorable moments bookending bursts of humor and rage. “Scenes From an Execution” is well delivered here, with the setting and show collaborating to create a thought-provoking, often captivating, experience.

“Scenes From an Execution” continues at Abiding Missions, located on Excelsior Street in Allentown, through April 27.

Read the full story here.

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