According to Baudelaire, the greatest trick that the devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he didn’t exist. In this new darkly comic monologue, American actor Bart McCarthy attempts this very trick. He plays Satan, attempting to convince the audience that he does not exist, and that he is merely a representation of our own dark impulses. But occasionally Satan is called away on urgent business, leaving the hapless actor he has possessed to improvise, telling us about his own life and fears.
This is intellectual comedy at its finest.
McCarthy is an extraordinary performer. As Lucifer, he is charming and smooth, coming across as a fusion of Jack Nicholson and Robin Williams. His monologue is witty and constantly amusing, but simultaneously genuinely intelligent, with references to Milton, Zoroastrianism and the Renaissance. His argument is also surprisingly persuasive, with some clever, unexpected conclusions.
When the Prince of Darkness is called away, McCarthy seamlessly transitions from confident swagger to the meek insecurity of the possessed actor. He contemplates his career and role in life, reflects on his past and thinks about his future. Towards the end of the show, these thoughts are nicely illustrative of Satan’s argument, providing the ultimate evidence for the devil’s points.
For the vast majority of the show, Satan Speaks is near perfect. I was fully engaged, and my attention never dropped once. However, this power is slightly lost in the finale. There is an unnecessary final 10 minutes, in which the humour becomes more silly, and descends into lists of puns. Whilst still amusing, this section was inconsistent with the tone of the rest of the performance, and should have been cut from the show.
However, for the most part Satan Speaks is a huge success. Bart McCarthy is an extremely talented performer, and his show is well thought-out and intelligent. This is intellectual comedy at its finest.