Fools Mass

St.John-St.Matthew-Emanuel Nave, Brooklyn

By Andrew Andrews

The twentieth anniversary season of Fools Mass features Megan Bones, Ryan Castalia, Felicity Doyle-Golan, Jesse Hathaway, Matt Mitler, Susan Steinman, Yvonne Brechbuhler, John Norman and Chris Cook. Original 2009 photo by Fred Hatt.

Last night we encountered a group of fools in Brooklyn.

No, we didn’t cross paths with SantaCon, and we hadn’t found ourselves in Williamsburg surrounded by tourists buying overpriced merch in a quest for the real BK experience.

On the far south end of Park Slope, at a little church with a really long name, we shared an interactive, uplifting, spiritual experience with a group of medieval “fools”—the physically- and mentally-challenged outcasts of the middle ages.

The immersive performance came courtesy of Matt Mitler and his company, Dzieci Theatre—yes, the same amazing troupe that brought us the most thrilling interpretation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth we’ve ever seen—MAKBETin a shipping container in East Billyburg last autumn.

The plot of Fools Mass is simple: with the untimely demise of their priest, the fools are compelled to carry on the celebratory mass as best they can, with assistance from those in the pews.

Featuring chants, beautifully-sung hymns and a rudimentary performance of the Christmas nativity scene, the fools’ antics are endearing, to say the least!

Now, with a name like Fools Mass, you might have a couple of concerns, depending on your leanings: firstly, that the production might not fit in with modern political correctness, and secondly, that it might not jive with your religious (or non-religious) values.

But know that the characters in this story are portrayed with heart, and innocence, and sincerity, and although you’ll certainly find yourself laughing at them, it’s only because they’re so darn charming.

And on the second count—though you might understand what’s happening better if you experienced a Christian upbringing—the performance is entertainment first and foremost, and you won’t leave feeling anything but peace and good will towards men.

Now in its twentieth anniversary season, Fools Mass is a traveling production, culminating with a show at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine on Sunday, December 23rd that’s popular enough to require advance tickets to guarantee entry.

But there are still a couple of opportunities to catch it in a more intimate setting, including Sure We Can in Bushwick, which is where we so-enjoyed the aforementioned performance of MAKBET.

Check it out, then come back here and tell us your favorite moment of the experience.

Your reviews can help others decide whether Fools Mass is the immersive holiday performance they’ve been seeking, and your ratings help us help you find events you’ll love all year long!

Andrew Andrews attended Fools Mass at St.John-St.Matthew-Emanuel Nave in Brooklyn on Saturday, December 8, 2018 @ 7:00pm to write this review.