Saturday, March 26, 2005

Just One More

Just One More

Thankfully the lightning bolt never materialised and we were free to enjoy the various delights of Jesus Christ Superstar without the accompanying singed hair.

And even if I lay to one side all of the kitsch value of JCS on Good Friday it really was the best performance that I'd seen. I love Fox and think, as someone untrained in musical theatre, he did an outstanding job. But seeing the new Judas - who never, not for even a second, stopped acting - it really did strike a different chord entirely. Which was not a little aided by the new Jesus. The last six times I've seen this production Glenn Carter has been at the helm. And Carter is - for the 99% of you who don't follow the inner workings of JCS - the gold standard Jesus. West End, Broadway, Film - he's done it. In musical theatre terms his is Jesus. And I don't know if he's always played Jesus this way, or if he's simply been doing the rounds for too long and become complacent or whether he started to believe the buzz that he is the son of God, but whatever the reason it remains that he isn't terribly good. Don't get me wrong, he hits the notes* and does the anguished Jesus thing. But there remains the fact that throughout he is an unbearably smug Jesus. The type of Jesus that you'd rather slap than follow, so that you're willing Judas to grass him up and take the money and run. Which even I, as someone who goes to see JCS on Good Friday, can't see as being a good thing. And from a theatrical viewpoint it destroys the balance of the musical. It remains in JCS that Judas is sympathetically written but this doesn't negate Jesus's role. In 'Gethsemane' he gets the out and out most moving song of the show - there has to be something to back this up.

Craig Price's Jesus last night had absolutely nothing smug about him. He was painfully, vividly human. Flawed, maybe caught up in his own hype, but still sympathetic, pummelled by the seemingly unstoppable momentum of his fate. Immediately you could see why the undoubtedly idealistic Judas had been friends with him; their whole relationship seemed to play out in numerous tiny moments which saturated the show. And in these moments, where every single opportunity to change history was missed, the inevitable conclusion became more and more painful. When their relationship broke down for the final time during 'The Last Supper' I thought that I was going to cry. This wasn't an angry Judas any more than it was a smug Jesus. These were two individuals, both of whom are betrayed and betrayer, both of whom are struggling with the pressure of something which they - but none of those around them - understand, both of whom falter under something which is bigger than either them. Something which is ultimately bigger than their friendship. And that hurt.

The only negative on Friday's performance was that if the balance of the show has been righted between Jesus and Judas, then it's lost the balance provided by Mary. From the first time I saw this production I adored Emma Dears's Mary. She had the amazing quality of making you think that she'd just thought up the words as she sung them. And she had a wonderful vulnerbility about her. In contrast the new Mary is rather too harsh for my liking. She clearly felt what she was acting - she was crying her eyes out during the curtain call - but she never made me feel it.

All in all, however, this ensemble, apparently 'nameless', production captured something which I'd never seen before. Maybe, on Good Friday, this was more fitting than I could ever have imagined.

*Boy does he hit those high notes. There are times when I'd have preferred it if he'd missed them.


Val said...

Brilliant report - glad you enjoyed it, and now know why we were raving last weekend - and I agree about all those you mention (but I think you forgot someone:))

Anonymous said...

Hi Corrine..

Here's suzi, maybe you know me and maybe you don't but I just had to write something...

I'm also a James Fox fan..and I came across your journal...and I found this great review of JCS and I was wondering if I could use this one for my forum of Craig Price....

The address is

Please let me know oke!

Suzette (username is suzikane)