When tourists or pilgrims visit the Middle East, particularly the Holy City of Jerusalem, some become so elated and consumed by the religious ambience that they believe they are, or are somehow directly connected to, a biblical figure or even God. This recognized and documented psychological condition, first diagnosed by Dr. Yair Bar-El, is explored by the 'afflicted' artist Marc Maron in his The Jerusalem Syndrome, premiering at Off-Broadway's Westbeth Theatre Center July 19 - Aug. 26. It officially opens July 27.
In Jerusalem, Maron goes on a mystical journey in search of spiritual fulfillment that takes him to the grave of "On the Road" beatnik writer Jack Kerouac, to Hollywood, the Philip Morris tobacco plant, and culminates in Israel, via Israeli airline El Al, which according to Maron is required "cause it's in the Talmud." In the show, Maron adds "It was heavy when my wife and I told my friends we were going, `cause they don't know how they fit in to that. They don't know why you're going. They're like 'Are you going to get Jew-ey?'"
Kirsten Ames directs the one man performance for Maron, who has appeared on the "Late Show with David Letterman," "Late Night with Conan O'Brien," Comedy Central and HBO. Jerusalem also features sets by Jessica Krause, lights by Roy Trejo, video by Kevin Scott, and original music by Mark Nilson.
If you'd like to make a pilgrimage to see Jerusalem, at the downtown Westbeth, 151 Bank St. (between Washington and West St.), call Ticketmaster at (212) 307-4100. Tickets are $25 and $30. Curtain is at 8 PM. For more info on the show or Marc Maron, visit his website, which includes video of the show, at www.marcmaron.com.
-- by Ernio Hernandez