Jesus Christ: The Lost Years. Why?

Monster Theatre is presenting Jesus Christ: The Lost Years at the Havana Theatre.

This undeniably excellent poster is by Kurt Firla. (It’s the Fringe version; ignore the dates.)

There’s nothing seriously wrong with Jesus Christ: The Lost Years. And there are some things that are majorly right. I’m just not super clear on why it exists.

In this hour-long show, writers Ryan Gladstone, Katherine Sanders, and Bruce Horak imagine what Jesus might have been up to between the ages of 13 and 30, during which time he disappears from the historical record. In their telling, Jesus is traumatized when he finds out that Joseph isn’t his biological father and sets off in search of his “real dad”.

Carly Pokoradi and Alex Gullason perform the whole thing—with a lot of effort and impressive precision. Under Gladstone’s direction, this show is as tight as…fill in your own non-sexual metaphor; I’m not coming up with anything. Their timing is impeccable, they vary tone, pitch, and speed to maximum effect, and their physical characterizations are so clear and committed that I only got lost once briefly, even though they share several roles, including that of Christ, and the cast of characters is huge: besides the Holy Family, we meet Luke Skywalker, Elvis Presley, Roman soldiers, trippy sand people, and a very ambitious and scheming John the Baptist—among others.

Pokoradi and Gullason are acting hard, but they do take little breaks into casual mode, which makes for a pleasing/surprising contrast. Especially at the beginning, I longed for more of these oases, but this material basically demands that the performers pour it on.

While I’m talking about the good stuff, let me give a shout out to Sydney Hayduk, who is delivering a ton of sound and light cues on this show with surgical accuracy.

But what’s the point? Besides virtuosity of performance, what shows like this can offer is virtuosity of imagination—a kind of liberating, terrifying loosening of reality. There are times when Jesus Christ: The Lost Years enters that territory. At one point, Jesus gets busy healing the creepy sand people, for instance. One of them is possessed by demons and, as Christ casts them out, we find out that they include Zool, Chuckie, and Voldemort. And there are other surprises in the text: “No way!/Yahweh!”

But most of the time, to me the script feels more busy than laugh-out-loud funny. And sometimes it’s juvenile. One of the characters describes John the Baptist as “a limp dick with a big ego.” And there’s a sequence near the end in which Jesus starts beating people up—including Edmund Hillary. What? Why? Is this supposed to ramp up the excitement?

I appreciate that the performances in The Lost Years are as tight as…as tight as Dick’s hatband—I found that beauty on the ever-helpful site phrase thesaurus—but I wanted the content to send me reeling and it didn’t.

JESUS CHRIST: THE LOST YEARS By Ryan Gladstone, Katherine Sanders, and Bruce Horak. Directed by Ryan Gladstone. A Monster Theatre production. At the Havana Theatre on Wednesday, March 13. Continues until March 23.Tickets.

 

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About Colin Thomas

Colin Thomas is a Vancouver-based editor, an award-winning playwright, and an established theatre critic. Colin helps writers unlock the full potential of their novels, short stories, screenplays, and children's books.

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