BWW Reviews: RAP GUIDE TO RELIGION Smartly Blends TED Talk with Performance
New York's SoHo Playhouse is known for presenting New York City with some of the finest hysterical yet thought-provoking material that modern theatre has to offer. Thus, the irony is not lost on me that my first visit to the venue was to see TRIASSIC PARQ (a show that handles the science vs. religion debate) and my second visit was to take in Baba Brinkman's RAP GUIDE TO RELIGION, a comical 90-minute one act that explores the Darwinian and psychological imperative and power the construct of religion has for the continued evolution of the human species.
Even though it may sound esoteric and heavy, the material in RAP GUIDE TO RELIGION is presented in a way that awakens and appeases your inner geek while tickling your ribs with well-crafted witticisms. Yes, Baba Brinkman's RAP GUIDE TO RELIGION is a smart show, but you don't necessarily have to be smart to get it and enjoy it. For the academics in the audience, knowing that his script is peer reviewed (Baba Brinkman sent his script to researchers in the field of evolutionary research studies so they could help him correct scientific inaccuracies), references developmental psychologist Alison Gopnik, and more will make some bristle with pride. Yet, for those unfamiliar with the science and psychology behind his show, he explains the theories with a saliency that is easy to comprehend.
The original raps Baba Brinkman has penned for the show are cleverly constructed and his use of them is always purposeful. While these raps keep the production from being a lecture, RAP GUIDE TO RELIGION definitely blurs the line between TED Talk and performance. What ends up happening is that Baba Brinkman more-or-less becomes Professor Brinkman, the coolest and most interesting theological and evolutionary studies teacher imaginable. He raps to drive his points home, ensuring that his explanations of complex theories in layman's terms sticks with us and is relevant to us as an audience. Therefore, his rap is a tool or an instrument to educate. He doesn't aim to change viewpoints; he only tries to expand the knowledge of the audience. And, the best part is, he succeeds. I left SoHo Playhouse contemplating issues concerning religion, atheism, and evolution; with more knowledge than when I entered; and with a desire to further explore some of these topics. No to mention, I was also humming raps like "Religion Evolves" and the instantly infectious hook to "Andrew Murray."
In a world where it truly seems like the road to enlightenment is truly through entertainment, Baba Brinkman is educating audiences with a medium that is wholly entertaining. The material is incredibly thought-provoking and richly dense, but he makes it digestible and, most importantly, fascinating. To be perfectly fair, I figured RAP GUIDE TO RELIGION would be noise I couldn't wait to forget, but I was wrong. Since I wouldn't call myself a fan of rap, the title kind of soured me towards the show. Yet, Baba Brinkman showed me that I don't have to be a fan of rap to really appreciate his keen, sick rhymes.
Take a trip to the SoHo Playhouse (15 Vandam Street [between Varick Street & 6th Avenue], New York City, NY 10013) to see why RAP GUIDE TO RELIGION has been extended through Sunday March 29, 2015. For tickets and more information please visit http://www.rapguidetoreligion.com, http://www.sohoplayhouse.com, or call (212) 691-1555.