The Bible according to . . .
The Good News
Curated and directed by Adam Goodall and Johnny Crawford for the Making Friends Collective St John the Evangelist Church, Feilding July 2 The Dark Room, Palmerston North, July 3- 4 Reviewed by Richard Mays
‘‘It’s a heavy book . . . a grim read’’.
That’s how a couple of unidentified respondents describe the Holy Bible in this performance free-for-all through the pages of both Testaments.
A work devised around wordfor-word recollections by 21 people who were interviewed about the Bible and religion, The Good News is far from being heavy, or grim.
On an open stage, apart from a couple of plastic toy boxes, three young performers Amy Griffin-Browne, Harriet Hughes and James Cain, deliver the transcripts of the Bible’s ‘‘nonHollywood narrative structure’’ beginning with ‘‘In the beginning’’ and working their way through to Revelation. God – complete with masquerade stick-mask beard – Adam and Eve and Lilith; the flood, courtesy of a water pistol and animal toys; confusion between Noah and Moses; the number 40; Abraham and Isaac, with Isaac becoming Joseph’s dad in the coat of many colours tale. Is Moses Christian Bale or Russell Crowe? No matter, the plague of locusts is rendered using a couple of released partially inflated fluttering balloons. Clever.
David and Goliath, Elijah and Elisha, Job, King Solomon as Jay-Z, Jonah and the whale all whizz by – then all of a sudden, Jesus, John the Baptist, Zaccheus, the last supper, the Resurrection and the multi- headed creatures of Revelation, while managing to reference Rugrats and The Simpsons.
It’s as if the Ugly Shakespeare Company had decided to tackle the iconic tome. And it’s such a wellhoned, well juggled and amusing hour and a quarter presentation, with the performers at pace sensitively capturing and relaying the nuances and speech patterns of the transcript respondents in all their sincerest biblical uncertainty.
Censorship did apply apparently, to the more profane expressions during the performance delivered at Feilding’s St John the Evangelist Church, but apart from that, this misremembered re-expression of the Good Book takes place verbatim.
Its fluency says plenty for the curation and arrangement of the interviews, and for the skill of the actors who capture both the chaotic and the coherent without missing a beat.