Showtimes

  • Wednesday-Saturday Nights at 8pm, Saturday matinees 2pm

Special Showings

  • March 10, 8pm: Preview Performance (pay-what-you-can at door)
  • March 18, 8pm: Artist Talkback

Reviews — 1 Open

Maziar Ghaderi

Apr. 1, 2011

11:49 AM

The original theatre production premiered in 2000 and was directed by Capote and Mission Impossible 3 star, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and is currently running at Pacific Theatre under the direction of the award-winning director, Angela Konrad until April 2nd.

It’s 1998 in the maximum-security Manhattan prison, Riker’s Island. Two troubled young men, Angel Cruz and Lucius Jenkins are charged with murder and face daunting doubts of faith, God and justice. With a power-crazy guard, Valdez, (played by Andrew McNee) tormenting every waking hour of these inmates, tensions are on edge and cell walls close in ever so tightly. The only chance of any kind of human interaction is the one-hour of recreational time given each day which becomes the meeting place for the layered dialogue of the pair.

The driving force of the piece is the seamless acting of Carl Kennedy (Lucius) and Robert Olguin (Angel). Kennedy’s explosive performance will have you hanging off the gritty wit of every verb, and is reminiscent of Denzel Washington’s cunning rhetoric in Training Day and Samuel L. Jackson’s prophetic charm in Pulp Fiction. And if that wasn’t enough, Olguin’s portrayal of a confused young man vaguely searching for salvation will leave your throat dry and your eyes peeled to the stage.

Coming at different ends of the religious spectrum, these men exchange philosophy through a barbwire fence and in between clouds of smoke from the “symbol of humanitarian aid”, the burning Cigarette.

Angel is awaiting the bureaucratic litigation process for shooting a crooked reverend in the ass, and is helped by his state-appointed lawyer, Mary Jane played by Kerri Norris. Following a half-baked notion of loyalty to his lost childhood friend, Angel takes flawed law into his own hands and asks, “how many sons of god you know drive a Lexus?” Mary Jane, finding a common ground with Angel and her own past, is inspired by his pure sense of justice and puts her career at risk to defend what’s right.

Lucius, the upbeat, cordial and righteous killer is sentenced to death for a drug-crazed multi-homicide in Miami, which was triggered by a pizza boy complaining about the bad stench in his apartment. Lucius at “God’s sunlight” during recreational time as he recites biblical passages while throwing punches in the air in a passionate effort to “turn misery into ministry”. The unavoidable tick-tock of the electric wall clock is too much to bear, so Lucius attempts to come to terms with his own mortality by creating illusions for dreadful environment. Sneaking drags of a Marlboro Light from Valdez’s sight isn’t that at all, but “two gentlemen retiring to the smoking garden”. Hoping to find a connection with his new found caged companion, Lucius goes on to warn Angel to find his passion in life and give yourself to it before it’s too late: “be blazin’ or be freezin’, but never be cool!”

Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train is one that you shouldn’t miss, but it only runs until this weekend; so go to pacifictheatre.org to book your tickets right away. Please note that this play contains the strongest possible language; viewer discretion is advised. I’ve always wanted to write that :).

MG

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