Corpus Christi | new theatreIt seems we have been getting the story of our lord and saviour wrong after all these years. Jesus Christ was actually a native of Corpus Christi, Texas and Judas was his homosexual lover.

As the play itself readily admits, this story has been told time and time again, so what is the purpose of this rather bent reinterpretation? Jesus’ story as told by the bible is of course episodic, so the play must follow suit but without a unifying satirical purpose, several scenes seem pointless

Like Mary, this play is pregnant with satirical possibilities. We wait for a comment on how the heartland of Neo-Conservative America has used Jesus’ teachings to justify their every piece of censorship or act of war. What would Jesus say to all these groups of politicians and priests? Shame then, that the play continually goes for cheap and obvious gags (“Oh Jesus Christ”) and the few references to gay bashing and queer marriage are done for shock value rather than to make an interesting point.

The play also suffers from numerous inconsistencies in time and geography. Are we in the present or the year of Christ’s birth and can someone please tell me what Roman centurions are doing in the middle of Texas?

As you might expect, the play follows the story of Jesus (Harley Connor) from the nativity scene to the crucifixion. Curiously, the first half of the play spends a lot of time at Jesus’ high school graduation where he meets Judas (Matt Rossner) and discovers gay love for the first time. This lengthy scene resembles a pedestrian high school comedy.

The play picks up marginally in the second half when Jesus gathers together his devoted twelve and his blazing trail of sermons and miracles gets under way. The most poignant moment in the play comes when the priests question the teaching of Jesus himself.

Corpus Christi is kept from bombing completely by its large cast (you can probably guess how many). The performance is energetic and physical. There is action all over the stage. As Jesus and Judas have an intimate conversation at the high school dance, others simulate fornication behind curtains. There is a fine moment when they all take that trade mark pose, during the last supper.

The crucifixion scene is one of the few dramatic movements in the play. Jesus’ fear of taking the path God has laid out for him becomes real and palpable. Christ on the cross makes an imposing figure, centre and back of the stage.

With Mardi Gras approaching this play is likely to have an audience, but such a jumbled script is unlikely to speak to the broader community.

new theatre presents
Corpus Christi
by Terrence McNally

Venue: new theatre | 542 King Street Newtown
Dates: 7 – 29 February 2008
Times: Thursday – Saturday @ 8pm, Sunday @ 5pm
Tickets: $27 full / $22 concession / $20 (groups 10+) / $10 Preview Wed 6 January
Bookings: 1300 306 776 /

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