Sep 22, 2007

Jesus Hopped The 'A' Train

Jesus Hopped The 'A' Train is a stark reminder that sometimes the best entertainment should be thought provoking, compelling and confronting. Currently showing at the Belvoir Theatre, this play explores that area of life where few of us exist. Between a rock and a hard place. Between the existence of life and the threat of imminent death. And it does it to absolutely devastating effect. Directed by Wayne Blair, he also performs in one of the leading roles as convicted multiple murderer Lucius Jenkins. We meet Lucius, now a man of God preaching the Gospel, as he awaits extradition to Florida where he is destined for execution. The other main character is Angel Cruz, played superbly by Ryan Johnson. Angel is waiting to be tried for attempted murder. Although his case seems different to that of Lucius because he had motives for his crime. He was doing it for the sake of a friend. Angel appears deep down to be a good person who now seems destined to pay for a crime that was morally right but legally wrong. We also meet Valdez, the morally superior prison guard who has nothing but contempt for Lucius and D'Amico, another guard who has actually befriended Lucius. The other important character is Mary Jane Hanrahan, Angel's attorney who desperately wants to help him but has her own conflicts to deal with. All these characters come together superbly in Stephen Guirgis' play set on Riker's Island, New York. It is a story of redemption, justice, right and wrong. The most powerful theme is the responsibility of choice. Taking ownership of the choices you make. Lucius is trying to absolve his horrid past by placing himself in the hands of God. Angel has no faith in God, but must now trust that some form of human justice will see him entangled from the mess he has created for himself. The cast is uniformly excellent but Johnson and Blair are quite breathtaking in their roles. You can feel the passion dripping off the stage as these two performers use their intelligence and fierce desire to great effect. Highly recommended if you love compelling and intelligent theatre.

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