Eulogy, by Colin Mitchell and Wade Jackson
Maidment Theatre, Auckland
Until July 16
Messiahs and prophets are amazing people. They can say anything they like and because they have a direct line to God they must always be telling the truth.
When they make mistakes or are tempted by the evils of the world, it just shows that they are human and are being tempted by the devil who wants to bring them down so their words will not be heard by their congregations.
Messiahs and prophets also have a weird way of talking. They say the most trivial and inane things, mix it up with a few quotes from the bible and suddenly the world makes sense.
Messiahs and prophets have great jobs as well, taking money off people who don’t resent the fact that they are being told how bad they are and that they need to follow the rules which the messiahs and prophets tell them about.
Eulogy presents one of the great tele-evangelists, Prophet Joseph Jones, rather his son Joshua who does a eulogy on his late, great father to the congregation which consists of the audinece on any given night.
It is a clever idea to present the life of one of God's great crusaders and also present his parallel life as a man who was tempted by the lure of money, little boys, the women of the streets and drug dealers. That he succumbed to temptation again and again seems to only prove his humanity.
It makes for some great comedy, some great lines and some clever visual gags – all of which add up to an entertaining evening.
The unfortunate thing is that with a lot of the situations and tales about the Rev Jones the writers have added some heavy handed punch lines to make sure we get the joke. That sort of approach completely undermines what could be some great subtle comedy.
For instance, very early on when the congregation is invited to pray, up on the big screen pop the works “Let Us Prey.” Things that obvious just aren’t funny. However, the final sequence in which a Joshua reads out a letter from his mother pouring vitriol on his father is brilliant.
On screen we have the actual letter but his reading of it, changing the intonation and the meaning turns it into a letter of praise. That little episode is a brilliant metaphor for the way in which messiahs and prophets abuse language.
It is also an example of the clever dialogue the writers are capable of.
Scott Wills as Joshua does a superb job although he occasionally lacks the fervour needed for a true preacher. Mainly he is let down by the script which turns him into a stand up comedian when he would have been much better as a full blown preacher.
But, there were a lot of people in the congregation who thought the whole thing was hilarious with many of them laughing like drains
Sun, 04 Jul 2010