Tommy James Green for the Sydney Fringe Festival: Christ Almighty - Review by Rachel Miller
On a balmy night, two ex-Catholic school girls walk easily from the Seymour Centre Car Park to the Reginald Theatre. Spring is in the air, with the promise of Christmas and all things festive. We reminisce about our Catholic school days. One of us is still practising while the other is on a different spiritual path. After checking our Catholicism at the cloakroom, we embark on the wild ride of ‘Christ Almighty’ written and directed by Tommy James Green for the Sydney Fringe Festival. As the lights go down and the energy in the room shifts, the audience quietens for a comical take on one of the greatest stories ever told…the Bible.
The show opens with a dynamic song and dance routine, and before too long, we meet the man of the moment, Jesus, Guiseppi Rotondella, who delivers an understated performance depicting a thirty-three-year-old single guy getting a little too comfortable with the spoils of living at home with his parents, Mary, Melissa Glinn and Joseph, Neil Parikh. He spends his days at his Dad’s carpentry business and his nights ‘punching bongs’.
One day, God, Jeeves Verma turns up at the door. He tells Jesus it’s time to start saving the people from their sins and teaming up with twelve pseudo-revolutionary students and a sex worker with a heart of gold, Mary Magdalene, Emma Flynn, one of the two stand-out performances of the night), the group journeys to Jerusalem.
The only person who can stand in their way, of course, is King Herod, riotously performed by James Hartley, who creates a somewhat drag-styled persona for one of the best-known villains from the Bible, complete with feathers, fans and a daybed. You get the drift. Very, very funny.
The musical score, composed by Gianna Cheung and Jeremy Kindl with lyrics by Tommy James Green, was a collection of catchy tunes that perfectly support the narrative of this edgy, modern-day take on the story of Jesus. The live band was under the skilful baton of Cheung, as Musical Director. The clever use of lighting - which could have been used more emphatically - in combination with the set transports the audience from a contemporaneous setting into a world of ruthless Romans and a hesitant hero.
Kudos to the cast and crew who play diverse and multiple roles. By delivering an impressive performance about a guy named Jesus who is “standing up for what you stand for”, they had the audience laughing out loud.
What a guy…if only we earthlings could all be like him. I give this production four stars of Bethlehem.