The Garden Theater
By Patrick Barlow
Directed by Jason Horne
Winter Garden, FL
This novelisation of Christ’s life became the defining novel that created a story about Jesus Christ without directly telling His story. The 1890 novel became a best seller that wasn’t topped until “Gone With the Wind” a generation later. It’s been a movie, a stage play and I’m certain there’s an audio book and an RPG out there somewhere. And now after a century of success, it’s time for a parody.
Tonight’s gag takes us in to the iffy world of Community Theater where Daniel (TJ Washburn) adapted this story to a four hander staring himself, his girlfriend Crystal (Kristin Shirilla), and two hapless actors (Mason Criswell and Adam Graham). From preshow projections to mismanaged spotlights to falling sets, the story has comic potential. And it does get laughs, although there are long passages were the audience smiles and nods but reserves their guffaws for the occasional boffo joke. The biggest laughs came from a high energy “Walk Like and Egyptian” number (Thanks to “The Bangles.”) Leprosy jokes were another favorite, as was the galley scene. There’s nothing like staging a full Roman nautical battle on stage, and it’s a good thing they skimped on the water. It’s a fun show and entertaining, even if it’s not a laugh a minute evening.