Scared O' That Messiah, or "I Can't Believe It's Not Buddha!" | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Scared O' That Messiah, or "I Can't Believe It's Not Buddha!" 

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SCARED O' THAT MESSIAH, OR "I CAN'T BELIEVE IT'S NOT BUDDHA!", Mom & Dad Productions, at Torso Theatre. You can taste how much director Joe Feliciano and his oh-so-motley cast want to be outrageous. Their two-act semisacrilegious parody Scared o' That Messiah begins with a metal version of the Lord's Prayer then leaps into a trashy Nativity, with wise men in Burger King crowns and a cranky Virgin Mother giving birth to a pink-haired troll doll. From that point we follow Christ's discarded foreskin through the ages until it falls into the hands of the present-day Catholic church--led by Pope Jean-Paul Gaultier, who cares only to design more fashionable papal garments. From the foreskin, the church clones Jesus--now known as the Cyber Christ--and enlists him as celebrity spokesperson for products like Eternal Life Savers.

While writers Laura Berry and J. Smith are at no loss for ideas, throughout the hesitant, fussy first act the cast plays things disappointingly safe. Too often Feliciano has everyone onstage pulling faces at once, leaving his scenes largely unfocused. By the second act the action becomes more streamlined, but the play devolves into a rather conventional updating of the Passion story. Ultimately the sacrilege seems a halfhearted school-yard prank, not an instance of cultural insurrection. --Justin Hayford

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