The stage is flanked by two sets of double doors: one, a shed, the other, a confessional. Both, fairly early on in "Legion" and with traditional Wild Claw pizzazz, open onto mutilated corpses. That these corpses are obviously bloodied-up dummies, no more menacing than Halloween mannequins in a storefront window, turns potentially stomach-churning scenes into mildly amusing camp.
The true horror of "Legion” does not lie in its muted special effects, or in its sets (although Nic Dimond's stark, churchy turrets bordered by the black cathedral vastness of Viaduct Theatre do make the action onstage seem to exist in a nightmarish bubble), but in its philosophy of the origins of humankind. It is the terror of sanity fractured, of exhaustion and despair, when all reason is lost to unexplainable and malevolent powers beyond mortal coercion or prayers for mercy.
Of course, eventually these powers are explained – at length – through dream scenes, jumbled memories, hallucinations, diatribes and extravagant monologues. ("Legion" tops two hours.) The play bears its bulk with wry humor, trundling on at a steady clip. If, in certain scenes, its lofty exposition seems better suited to the pages of a novel than to the stage, there are still plenty of snappy exchanges and moments of luminous introspection to make up for this. There is some beautifully creepy mask-work, an eerie dance of lunatics, characters you like who die, characters you loathe who live, and plenty of blood-spattered crazies wielding large shears.
An audience member going into "Legion" with no prior knowledge of its prequel, "The Exorcist," may have trouble assimilating all the background information, but on the whole, the show can be enjoyed on its own merits. Dark and glib and occasionally deep, "Legion" provides a gruesomely good time at the theater.
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