Writer: Stephen Adly Guirgis
Director: Jake Murray
Reviewer: Jo Beggs
Angel Cruz has landed himself in prison for shooting a cult leader who has “stolen” his best friend. Angel didn’t set out to kill the Reverend Kim, in fact, he shot him “in the ass” to avoid that very outcome, but now his victim has died during routine surgery and he’s up for murder.
Lucius Jenkins is a serial killer, something of a prison celebrity who’s done unspeakable things to innocent people, but, born again in prison, he’s put all that behind him, believing himself to be forgiven.
Angel and Lucius are very different people but in this dense and intense two hours of theatre they face their predicament together, questioning the nature of personal responsibility, morality and redemption.
First performed in New York in 2000, Jesus Hopped The A Train questions the legal and penal systems in the US and offers a stark reflection on how the law struggles to deal with the complexities of the human condition. Are Angel and Lucius the same as Lucius is want to believe, and is redemption even possible when you’ve committed monstrous acts.
The play doesn’t shy away from the big questions – all dealt with superbly in Stephen Adly Guirgis’s fantastic, pacy script. The play’s format, which really focuses on a series of monologues and duologues – offers a complete focus on the individuals. All shades of light and dark are here, sometimes funny, often tragic, we are drawn into their messed up worlds. Their regrets, hopes, dreams and memories are told with a raw, confrontational sincerity.
An all-round excellent cast is fronted by the two prisoners. Danny Solomon as Angel offers up a brilliantly balanced performance, delivering much of the play’s humour while totally inhabiting his conflicted and vulnerable character. Faz Singhateh, though, as Lucius, is totally mesmerising. He has both a huge presence and a haunting stillness that reflect the conflict in his character. When he delivers long monologues you can’t take your eyes off him. The scenes between the two of them are tense, hilarious and heart-breaking, the bond between their characters totally unlikely, yet completely convincing.
This is a big play – and played in the HOME studio space has an intimacy that makes it even more affecting, as we literally look into the eyes of a killer. The set, dominated by a huge stars and stripes backdrop, is bold enough to make a big statement, yet unfussy enough to leave the impact to the extraordinary script and flawless performances.
Runs until 19 May 2018 | Image: Mark Russell