Corpus Christi, by Terrence McNally presented by The Queer Collective is an updated portrayal of Jesus and The Disciples as a group of gay men in modern day America.
On paper it sounds like a very rich premise, but in reality it serves up some half formed ideas and done feel fully explored. It’s a very big story to pack into an hour and half. There is also so much lightness in the production, that the weightier moments don’t seem to land as solidly as they should. The meta quality to the play is an interesting conceit, but it never allows me to fully invest beyond the surface of the characters or relationships.
The production takes a while to warm up, as the setting up and assigning is characters seems to take much longer then needed.
Corpus Christi is directed by Nick Connaughton and is performed by the company with real commitment that shows an engaging and playful sense of ensemble. Some of the actors do not make great transformations or sustain their characters as much as others, but nonetheless they all tell the story with conviction and focus.
The actor playing Joshua (Jesus) demonstrates a good emotional connection to his role and has great magnetic stage presence. The actress who plays God also is a stand out as in her small moments she commands the space and the text.
The are some strong and memorable visual moments that the Connaughton has cleverly constructed (the last supper image being a highlight). Also the decision to have the actors constantly onstage is very successful in its as aesthetic, but also in its execution as it keeps the ensemble active and present throughout.
Also a special mention to Matthew Swithinbank for his vibrant lighting design.
Corpus Christi is an uneven play that doesn’t feel certain in its tone or what it is trying to convey, however The Queer Collective have brought it to life with passion and commitment.
This production has now closed. Follow @arcolatheatre for future productions from their Queer Collective.
© SL 2018