BWW Review: THE BOYS OF ST. MATTHEW'S PRESENT JESUS CHRIST! AND OTHER CHRISTMAS TALES is The Raunchy Reason For The Season
Since The Boys of St. Matthews burst onto the theatre scene with their 2015 production of Tartuffe, they have been a reliable source of hilarity and dick jokes. Thankfully, the Christmas stories in JESUS CHRIST! let these young men do what they do best--kidnap teachers and put on the most offensive versions of classic plays they can. This time around, we get a mashup of Christmas Carol and the story of Jesus' birth with some exceptionally intense Santa Claus and Frosty the Snowman thrown in. Also, there's a turkey. This is not a story for the prudish, as evidenced by the four people who walked out on opening night, but for those who want an excellent night out at a show that is so jam-packed with jokes you can barely catch your breath, get your tickets immediately.
As with each of the Boys of St. Matthew's shows, the audience is greeted by the head of St. Matthew's School for Boys--in this case Sister Mary Kate Ashley played by Ashley Arnold. She assures us that none of the unfortunate incidents of the past i.e. the boys hijacking the show to make it as crude as possible will happen this time; and then she is immediately removed from the stage so the boys can do exactly that. This is a less linear story than in previous productions, but somehow it actually works. Similar to writer/director Kevin Broccoli's production American Strippers, this play reworks classic stories and characters, so the audience already knows what to expect--kind of. Then those preconceptions all get twisted into something completely different and utterly uproarious.
Because this show is so genuinely hilarious, it's almost easy to get caught up in the energy and fail to register all of the excellent performances, but it's because of the excellent cast that this play works as well as it does. Derek Smith as the long-suffering control freak narrator then Bob Cratchit manages to pack so much disdain into a single look that he nearly knocks you over. Matthew Gorgone as Jacob Marley, and also an angel, kind of, reveals himself as a master of physical comedy. Cardryell Truss as Jesus-- there are almost no words for that performance except simply divine. Matthew Lavigne's performance as Santa Claus will haunt me forever, and he does a pretty good English accent. Aaron Blanck as Scrooge has this exceptional sneer on his face, and utter disdain for everyone, especially his annoying nephew Fred, played with eager enthusiasm by Michael Puppi. Katie Westgate as the Dramaturg adds a delightfully unexpected extra element and her sincere, nerdy eagerness is just another layer of hilarity. Chris Pelletier's performance as Tiny Tim is so heartfelt and hysterical, it's amazing he was able to deliver it without devolving into giggles.
The Christmas season is a magical time of the year that hopefully reminds us all to treat everyone with kindness and to strive to be the best versions of ourselves. But sometimes you want to chuck all that goodness out the window and revel in the basest forms of pure entertainment. Thankfully, with JESUS CHRIST! you can get the warm fuzzies of supporting local theatre while also laughing yourself sick. It's the gift that keeps on giving.
Epic Theatre Company's The Boys of St. Matthew's presents
Jesus Christ! And Other Christmas Tales
December 1st - 9th Fridays at 8pm Saturdays at 7pm & 10pm (10pm shows are "extra naughty" 18+ only)
Tickets $20 General Admission, $15 Seniors & Students
50 Rolfe Square, Cranston RI. Tickets at http://www.artists-exchange.org/events.html