20 October 2017

South Africa: Theatre Review - the Man Jesus - a Cleverly Constructed Whodunnit


You don't have to be religious, thank God, to find yourself enjoying this play about Jesus. Not when the script of The Man Jesus is more of a cleverly constructed whodunnit, or whydunnit, than a paean to Christianity. By LESLEY STONES.

It's set 2,000 years ago when Jesus was roaming Palestine gathering his disciples and upsetting the authorities. We never meet the man himself, but his presence is conjured up on stage as various people who knew him talk to him and about him.

The play was written by Matthew Hurt, a South African whose work has been produced in Europe, the US and Australia. It's a clever and engaging piece, well researched and solidly constructed.

The script is intelligent and nicely lyrical, and here with Lebo Toko as the solo actor it's delivered with outstanding skill. Initially his style feels overly dramatic, then it becomes captivating, and a less flamboyant approach could allow the play to pall as it runs beyond 90 minutes.

Even way back then Palestine was in a complex situation, but if your religious and historical knowledge is a little ropey, there's just about enough background quickly built into the story for you to grasp the...

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