May 29, 2011

It must be nice when “I passed the meeting house without saying a prayer” is the worst sin you can recall committing. That is one of the sweetly comic public confessions of the mid-19th-century Shaker women in the 3 Graces Theater Company’s revival of “As It Is in Heaven.” This modest, strangely moving one-act by Arlene Hutton (“The Nibroc Trilogy”), which originally opened in New York two days after the terrorist attacks in 2001, is a gentle portrait of a culture very different from ours. But the tale of women living together in a Shaker community (Shakers practice celibacy, so the sexes lived separately) is also an unexpected patchwork of high and low cultural influences.