What if you made a mistake? What if that mistake cost someone their life? But what if that someone stole something from you, something intrinsic to your happiness, which you could never replace? Theater Company Tsultrum8 does a brilliant job of providing a set of intangible ideas to these impossible questions-New York style. This is no dull night at the theatre! You may struggle for the first few scenes but trust me, every audience member is sucked into the dark world of "Jesus Hopped the A Train."
Welcome to the existence of two inmates in 'protective custody' at Riker's Island penitentiary in New York. Lucius Jenkins (Kwasi Songui) is convicted of raping and murdering eight victims and has conveniently 'found God' in jail while his lawyers fight to keep him from being extradited to Florida to face lethal execution. Angel Cruz (Jay Cutler) made a statement, and took a desperate, callous measure to try and save someone he loved-and ended up accused of first degree murder. Mary Jane (Holly O'Brien) is a burnt-out public defense lawyer teetering on the edge of her humanity who finds her compassion is re-awoken by Cruz. Every character has their own agenda but their lives ultimately interweave with some kind of subtle, insistent destiny. No one is free from existential questions in this performance. Everyone must face guilt, forgiveness and freedom. Easy answers are battered apart as blunt, hard hitting dialogue searches for a concrete, acceptable explanation.
The five performers (with Eric Digras and Eric Davis in supporting roles) embraced their roles with the reverent devotion that leads to amazing theatre. Dialogue leaves one waiting with bated breath and the intensity built to an almost unbearable level before breaking each character against the hard rocks of society and institution. "Jesus Hopped the A Train" challenged religion, faith, denial, accepting responsibility and hypocritical existence. The punches were never pulled and independent company Tsultrum8 presented a production that embraces their mandate of "passionate morality."
"If God didn't mean for them people to be killed, how would I have the ability to kill them?"
Don't miss the return of "Jesus Hopped the A Train" during its limited run.
453 St. François-Xavier
September 15-19: Wednesday to Saturday 8 p.m., Sunday 7p.m. Saturday matinée 2 p.m.
Tickets: Regular $25, Students/Seniors $17, Groups $10
Box Office: 288-3161