In this quiet, thought provoking performance, solo performer David Snider plays Samuel Gentle, a gardener, a former minister in his middle years, who is reflecting on God, his faith, other belief systems and the way his life has unfolded.
“An Almost Holy Picture” develops as a nonlinear narrative as Gentle recounts the experiences which have shaped him. He recalls that God spoke to him when he was nine years old, advising him to “Follow Me”. He became a minister and chose to practice in the desert of Acoma, where he hoped to find vision and light. Instead, he found only darkness because of a terrible tragedy involving children in his care.
For the past twenty-one years, he has been a gardener for the neighbourhood church. He has married and has one daughter, Ariel, who was born with lanugo, a rare disorder of unpigmented downy hair that covers the entire body. He loves his daughter and tries his best to protect her from any negative effects her condition might have on her life.
Gentle’s wife, Miriam, is an anthropologist who has told him that the Hopi people believe that events occur in groups of four. He feels that three events have already happened to him and he waits for years, always a little on edge, for the fourth event – for something to happen that will change everything.
There is a sense of foreboding in Gentle’s recounting of the episodes of his life; his belief that the fourth event “will happen” colours his relationships with friends and family.
Of course, something does happen and the anguish it produces causes him to re-examine himself and his choices once again. “Every village,” he says, “should have a wailing wall.”
“An Almost Holy Picture” invites the audience to ponder some of life’s big questions. David Snider, as Samuel Gentle, does an excellent job of tackling them in a modest, understated way which encourages continued reflection. The background music , courtesy of Luke Ertman, is subtle and very effective at enhancing Gentle’s mood.
“An Almost Holy Picture” is playing at Pacific Theatre at 1440 W 12th Ave, Vancouver through March 3.
Review: Judy Robb