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"Crucifixion" Photo: Beth Kates
"Crucifixion" Photo: Beth Kates

Theatre Review: Bigger Than Jesus at 1000 Islands Playhouse

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Bigger Than Jesus opens in the Firehall at 1000 Islands Playhouse July 29 and runs for only 7 performances. Here's Connie's review of this same production that she saw earlier in Ottawa.

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Reported by

Connie Meng
Theatre Critic

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The one-man multimedia production of BIGGER THAN JESUS is an exploration of the cumulative dogma and misrepresentation surrounding the historical figure of Jesus. Written by Rick Miller and Daniel Brooks and performed by the inexhaustible Mr. Miller, the play is structured on the Catholic liturgy for the mass. In the course of the evening Mr. Miller brings to life an eclectic assortment of characters - among them a Jewish theologian, a sympathetic flight attendant and a television evangelist complete with break dancing.

An inventive and fascinating use of a live feed from video cameras and creative lighting designed by Beth Kates and Ben Chaisson enables the audience to see not only Mr. Miller's every expression, but at times themselves.

The playwrights do their best to balance the reverent with the irreverent in order to appeal to a wide audience. Early on in the proceedings Mr. Miller says, "When you hear the word God you can think whatever you want to think." Then later, "In the beginning there was nothing, then suddenly there was a pulpit." As he said in an interview, ". . . Christians - the kind who still ask questions - have been our most enthusiastic supporters."

Without a doubt the funniest sequence is the Last Supper performed with action figures including Jesus, Darth Vader, Dorothy and the Tin Man, Homer Simpson and even George W. Bush. At the climax Mr. Miller launches into a wonderful parody of "Gethsemane" from JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR that's just as good as if not better than Webber's original.

There are times when, as my companion commented, his reach exceeds his grasp, and also the first two sequences go on a bit too long. However Mr. Miller's energy, magnetism and versatility carry us along.

This hugely theatrical production will appeal to anyone who likes edgy thought-provoking theatre. BIGGER THAN JESUS also provides many moments of humor and an unexpectedly touching ending. If you'd like to find out more before committing to a trip to Ottawa, there's a web site at http://www.biggerthanj.com/.

On a scale of one to five the WYRD Productions and Necessary Angel Theatre Company's production of BIGGER THAN JESUS at GCTC gets four and three-fourths pizzas. For North Country Public Radio I'm Connie Meng.

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