Reviewed by: Freya Parr
Damon Lockwood’s comic sketch-style show Jesus: No Ordinary Life takes us back to the birth of Christianity, exploring how the birth of Jesus only came about as a marketing campaign to increase church attendance numbers. The leaders of Christianity needed a figurehead; someone who could perform comically ridiculous acts, such as walking on water. They named this figure Jesus.
They then undertook auditions, which the real Jesus attended, but did not make the cut. Jesus: No Ordinary Life follows the tale of this publicity campaign, actively laughing at the concept of the birth of Christianity, as well as religion as a whole.
The play as a whole was very “meta”, with no backstage area, and actors seated to the side instead of disappearing offstage. The actors all wore black and used strong characterisation techniques to create a sense of differentiation, which was mostly very humorously done. Nick Pages-Oliver was particularly successful in his characterisation, giving a particularly convincing and humorous performance as Joseph. The “meta” jokes were also thoroughly enjoyed by the audience, particularly those laughing at the notion of “shit actors”. However, these were pushed a little too far, becoming a little too pantomime in style, which lost the power slightly.
As a concept, I was thoroughly intrigued by the notion of questioning this “unquestionable”. Admittedly though, I was slightly disappointed with the execution of the play, in that it did feel as though it was just gag after gag after gag, with little cohesion or plotline. It lacked structural clarity, and although a few wry smiles were broken at some of the jokes, it did feel slightly confused in structure and style, because it was continually jumping around in style and subject. Nevertheless, it was an enjoyable performance, if a little silly at points, and everyone came out of the theatre feeling satisfied and amused.
Jesus: No Ordinary Life should be enjoyed after several glasses of wine, and by those wanting something light and fluffy. It is a fun little production, not exactly giving any complex analyses of religion or atheism, but was one that generally went down a treat with the audience.
Jesus: No Ordinary Life appears at the Blue Room Theatre until 4th July.