Writer: J. Julian Christopher
Director: David Mendizábal
Reviewer: Jamie Rosler
Well-crafted and well-paced, Locusts Have No King is a sharp new play by J. Julian Christopher, running at INTAR Theatre just in time for the end of the Lenten season. Part of the experience of this production is the slow unfolding of the four characters’ truths, continuously revealing new facets of the story as the play progresses, and part of the challenge in writing about it is not giving away too much before the audience enters the theatre.
Four gay men, Marcus, Jonathan, Matthew, and Lucus—as in Mark, John, Matthew, and Luke—live down the hall from each other. Matthew and Lucas are in a relationship, as are Marcus and Jonathan, but Lucas and Jonathan used to have a romantic entanglement of their own, and it weighs heavily over the current state of affairs. Throughout the course of a dinner party, peppered with individual audience addresses from each respective man’s namesake Gospel, these characters weather unexplained supernatural events, ponder escapism, and debate homosexuality in the priesthood. It is a night that will change their lives forever, from which major decisions must be made.
David Mendizábal does a stellar job directing Christopher’s script, which is at varying times poetic and colloquial, lofty and low. There are no efforts, on paper or on stage, to try and dive too deeply into explaining the unexplainable. There are mystic and intensely supernatural moments in the play, that are fully experienced as they transpire, but are not permitted to become the focus of the production. Instead, these occurrences are essential to the relationship and character development that is truly the engaging element.
The cast works well together, and for the most part they do a phenomenal job fleshing out their troubled and sympathetic characters. Unfortunately, there is a decidedly weak link in the casting. John J. Concado, as Matt, doesn’t have the full scale of intensity or depth to fully realize this integral character, though he commits to the nth degree of his abilities.
Locusts Have No King is an original exploration of the gospels, and blasphemy, from a new and modern point of view. Tackling homosexuality in the priesthood, and finding the balance among humor, solemnity, and the occult, while offering the audience genuinely likeable and wholly human characters, is not a simple task, and yet this production makes it appear effortless.
Runs until 24 April 2016 | Photo: Carol Rosegg