Archikulture Digest

Jesus Hopped The A Train

Jesus Hopped The A Train

By Stephen Adly Guirgis

Directed by John DiDonna

Starring Roger Floyd, Alexis Jackson

Empty Spaces Theatre Company and Warren Acting Company at The Orlando Shakespeare Festival</strong>

The world is full of SOB’s that need a bullet in their ass, but does that mean they’ll give you a parade for popping that cap? Not in the case of Angel Cruz (Floyd), he shot a money grubbing cult leader and finds himself in lockdown with born again con man Lucius Jenkins (Dennis Neal). Lucius’ sweet arrangement with friendly guard Charlie D’Amico (Lawrence Benjamin) blows away when hard ass Valdez (Jeremy Wood) replaces him. No more vanilla fudge Oreos for Lucius, Valdez isn’t buying the born again cant and prefers Satan worship every Sunday at 10 am. Public defender superstar Mary Jane Hanrahan (Jackson) drew Angel’s case, and his quick confession doesn’t do much to quell her hubris about getting him off the hook. She turns down deal after deal until she has only one path forward – perjury and a Johnny Cochran style showboat bet-the-farm defense. Where is this taking us? To a jail house happy ending – Lucius gets lethal injection, Angel gets 20 years, Mary Jane is disbarred, and everyone gets to roll around in the joyful dung of self righteous self-salvation. God, I feel so superior to these people.

Empty Spaces stakes out the high ground on Serious Theater in Orlando. Jesus JumpeHopped The A Train is a meaty and complex drama, if a bit blunt. The Free Will vs. God’s Plan whips around furiously until it forms the sort of mousse you see on dip stick in a Chevy with a bad head gasket. Floyd plays an excellent Latino hothead, capturing both the verbal inflections and hand gestures of a desperate man with a rapidly failing case of self justification. Lucius’ jail house conversion is a cheesy as tinfoil art, and while he talks a good streak there’s no remorse for his serial kills and connoisseur’s taste for high grade coke. Wood was a deadly nasty Valdez, able to intimidate his wards even if he barely made welter weight. Public Defender Hanrahan felt wooden, but her cockiness to let you know she was going down before the final curtain.

There plenty of explicit language and descriptions of inhuman acts, but at its root “Jesus” reworks the classic Greek tragedies with a hero who gets kneecapped by the Gods. In some sense, though, everyone gets a happy ending. Angel admits to himself the magnitude of his crime, Lucian gets to see heaven and leave the rest of us in peace, and even D’Amico gets out of prisoner humiliation and opens a pool cleaning service. The only thing that feels wobbly is Hanrahan’s discovery that being the best damn public defender in Christendom made her feel hollow inside. I forget what she ended up doing, probably some sort of animal rescue service. A gassed Dalmatian probably expresses the same level of appreciation when she screws up as Angel did.

For more information on Empty Spaces Theater Company, visit http://www.emptyspacestheatre.org


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