The Prophecy According to Terrence 

As Terrence McNally’s 1998 play Corpus Christi begins a two-week run in New York, we’re reminded exactly how far we’ve come. 



Terrence McNally Cast x390 (Glen Capers) |

The show opens
with the group milling on stage, hugging each other, and
talking as if they’re at the start of an AA meeting.
They eventually change, onstage, from their street
clothes to a uniform of khaki pants and white shirts.
And while the this Godspell-like beginning
(people putting on a play about Jesus Christ) seems staged
and the camaraderie forced, once you realize the
troupe has been together for so long, the interaction
seems genuine. Everyone ends up playing multiple parts
(except James Brandon, who plays Joshua), weaving seamlessly
into and out of character with the help of minor
costume and lighting changes and fantastic
choreography that reconfigures the group from cars on a
highway to a field of serpents in the blink of an eye. The
stage is bare except for a couple of benches and a few
props, and the actors keep the audience engaged with
nothing more than their talent.

The performances
are remarkable, however. Molly O’Leary, who plays
Thomas, really chews the scenery -- there’s even a
line in the play warning us that she will do just
that. She owns all the comedic moments in the play.
But the real standout is Brandon as Joshua. His embodies the
original message of Jesus with so much charisma that you
believe it actually may be possible to love your
fellow man no matter what. His torment is palpable,
and when he is crucified and the actors (now out of
character) take him down, Brandon is a mess. Switching out
of his character and back into the real world, he can
barely keep it together as the cast members help him
into his jeans. This is perhaps the revival’s
greatest success. How hard it must be to get an audience to
become emotionally involved with a story
they’ve seen performed in innumerable ways. But
watching this cast go from being as excited as a kid on
Christmas about playing these parts to being inconsolable is
undeniably moving.  

Tags: Theater