2015 Progress Review: Messiah Complex 5.0 (Michael Dudeck and Videofag)

Messiah Complex

Presented as a lecture from the fictional Museum of Artificial Histories, Michael Dudeck’s The Messiah Complex 5.0, curated by Videofag for the Progress Festival, sets out to deconstruct the religious themes and narratives that permeate “Grand Narratives.”

Using movement, song, projections, and popular culture, Dudeck’s solo performance is compelling. He uses projections carefully, letting his audience make connections between his ‘messiah’ character and what the images depict. In fact, Dudeck, the centre of the work, is charming. Confident in his material, he lets his audience get swept away in his make-believe information.

There are no facts in this show. Instead, we, as the audience, are invited to take his perspective. With tongue-in-cheek jabs at the prevalence of religious iconography in our everyday life, Dudeck is just as interested in his own invention as he is in highlighting our own dependence on very specific images.

The play might not resonate with everyone because it deals explicitly with reinterpreting religious iconography. More significantly, to me and to my guest, were some videos shown early in the performance dealing with an experiment involving baby primates. Both my guest and I, while comparing notes, admitted it was particularly distressing to watch.

These are considerations rather than complaints about the production. Each decision made in the production ultimately serves the creative experience. The point, explained in the program is “appropriat[ing] aesthetic strategies…to excavate the mechanisms used to design and disseminate Grand Narratives.”

Specifically, over the course of the hour, the audience is taught a new religious narrative. Is it a better narrative? That’s for the audience to decide. And this is where The Messiah Complex 5.0 is particularly clever. Dudeck is interested in creating while the audience is invited into his process.

If you want to pass an inventive, fun, and funny hour at the Progress Festival, The Messiah Complex 5.0 is totally worth your time.


  • All Progress Festival performances are being held at The Theatre Centre (1115 Queen St. W)
  • Tickets for Progress Festival Shows range from $10 – $30, several events are free
  • Showtimes and ticket information are available at thisisprogress.ca

Photo of The Messiah Complex (The Crowning with Horns) by Larry Glawson