Ciara Ni Chuirc
11/29/2013 5:23 PM
Jesus presented as a man is not a new idea, but the style in which Berkoff explores the man is. Berkoff imagines Jesus as the revolutionary leader of a small cult, convinced that by faking his own death and thus fulfilling the prophesies of the Old Testament, his legend will live forever.
Berkoff’s writing is imbued with energy, combining lyricism with physicality, and “The Messiah” creates an interesting and frenetic picture of the last days of Jesus.
The only weak note in the play is the character of Caiaphas – portrayed as the typical Christian Bishop, delighting in the ornate robes and beautiful jewels that come with his position, as well as the power - he pontificates at length about his enjoyment of choir boys and his delight at hearing sexual confessions. One can’t help but feel that Berkoff is merely expressing his own contempt for religion with this character.
The script’s most beautiful moments come with Mary’s monologue after her son is removed from the cross, praising the miracles of life and childbirth, mixing a graphic description of the realities of childbirth with softer moments. “The Messiah” works well because of Berkoff’s ability to move smoothly between realism and surrealism, contrasting Jesus’s carefully-laid plan with his own conviction that he is, in fact, divine. Berkoff is a virtuoso of physical theatre, and even just reading “The Messiah”, one can imagine it in production.