Presented by Praxis Stage
By Stephen Adly Guirgis
Directed by Dayenne C. Byron Walters & Daniel Boudreau
Review by Kitty Drexel
(Dorchester, MA) The law isn’t interested in justice. It’s purpose is to execute “due process” as cheaply and swiftly as possible. It is historically, contemporarily, and immediately evident that the law performs based on the golden rule: he with the most gold (and the whitest skin) rules. Poverty means that an innocent man can spend the rest of his life in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. People of color get fucked by the legal system regularly. Praxis Stage’s Jesus Hopped the A Train isn’t fiction. It’s non-fiction utilizing fiction to blast unfortunate truths.
Angel (Danny Mourino) is rotting in prison because he sought justice when society, and the police ignored injustice. Mary Jane (Dawn Davis) is the jaded district attorney who wants to get him back on the street. Lucius (Daniel Williams) a smooth talking sociopath with a God obsession that convinces Angel of his humanity. Valdez (Harry Garo) and D’Amico (Daniel Boudreau) are the prison guards that monitor them all. A Train is a play about abuse, God’s place behind bars, and race. If free will truly exists, “right” and “wrong” are merely options on a broad spectrum of available behaviors.
A Train makes a weak start but it finishes with great strength. The best moments occur during its many monologues. The cast builds up steam about 40 minutes in when the script starts pulling punches. Line endings are no longer dropped, the cast is enunciating with clarity, and the energy bumps up. Everything fuses together just in time for a huge plot reveal.
Mourino, and Williams give thoughtful performances. Their characters keep the audience guessing. Mourino convinces us that Angel is more frustrated than irresponsible. Williams makes Lucius so charismatic as to make us forget that he’s a homicidal maniac.
Guirgis uses the word “fuck” a lot in his works. A Train, like The Motherfucker with the Hat, is no exception. Audiences should prepare themselves for “fuck” in many permutations, raunch, and other emotional violence. Curse words have a bad reputation but Guirgis effectively communicates complicated, abstract concepts with four letter words. Those who feel that cursing connotes an uneducated vocabulary should read/see Guirgis’ works.
The Dorchester Art Project is a small found theatre space with no air conditioning. It’s hot as a mother in that space. Wear as little as possible (within reason) while attending. Bring a water bottle.
This is a fringe play that resists with its existence. It’s design elements are simple but home-grown. It’s statement is necessary. Hate that Jesus Hopped the A Train is relevant? Push for Prison Reform. Push your politicians for reform. Don’t stop until equitable justice is served.
We elected a thin-skinned bigot to the office of the President dead set on turning our “democracy” into a fascist, totalitarian oligarchy dominated by the 1%. Trump is a monster. His policies, when he names them, are destructive. His narcissistic behavior is more so.
Congressional “negotiators” released a spending bill that saves the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for Humanities, and National Public Radio until September at which time, the President and his impotent cronies may still cut arts funding. It is ever important to remain vigilant. And, for the love of all that’s sacred, keep creating. If you need help, ask for it. Our existence is our resistance. May the force be with you. – KD
TCG has a list of things you can do to help.
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