By Ian Paul Messersmith
The “Fantastic Comedy” entitled Magic, by G. K. Chesterton, is a masterful piece of literature in which each character is a clear representation of the societal issues surrounding faith and doubt. A young priest struggling with his beliefs. An aging doctor attempting to examine life through a scientific lens. A young woman willing to believe anything. A young man certain about his views is driven mad with confusion. A Duke trying to appease all but failing at every attempt. A working class man struggling for his voice to be heard through all the noise. These are all roles we may assume at any point in life.
There is something phenomenal about the lengths people will go to in order to hold their faith true. How we can observe something impossible with the greatest clarity and call it true. That is a miracle. That is faith. But what happens when we pull open the curtain and start to question and scrutinize? Things start to fall apart. The magic starts to fade.
This piece asks the audience to question: Is it better to know or hold faith? Is it better to know or know how? Those complex questions have been the cause of many debates and even more wars. As stated by Chesterton in the script, “Does it ever strike you that doubt can be a madness, as well be faith?” Many trust that their beliefs are true and infallible. These unwavering beliefs become a driving force of how one defines oneself. Through this piece we explore doubt in an effort to strengthen faith.
Diving into the depths of this play has been so rewarding. Chesterton created a pragmatic mystery full of laughs and wonder. However, this work has given me a great deal to think about too. Through it all I have found myself wanting more. Which leads me to believe that G.K. Chesterton was reaching into what appeared to be an empty top hat and pulling out something relevant and thought provoking. Magic is a piece that will be appreciated and enjoyed by all who see it.