Theatre review: Christ on a Bike
Riotous turn from Chris JS Wilson’s Jesus L’Oreal
Thanks to his omnipotence, Chris Wilson’s Jesus manages to be both the surprised recipient for his birthday party, and the organiser. When he arrives – liberally scattering holy water and followed by two fervent and fabulous disciples – Wilson’s benevolent, punning-slinging Messiah is ready to party and remind the audience of his important message.
Given its eye-catching title, Christ on a Bike might be expected to veer towards the blasphemous: however, this fun-packed hour manages to present a contemporary Christ amidst a whirl of wind machines, high-wedged sandals, and spin classes whilst maintaining a tender sympathy towards a much misunderstood figure.
The plot is simple enough: Jesus takes the opportunity to correct a myriad of misunderstandings regarding his message in the hopes of attracting a renewed following for his twitter account. Within this, Wilson presents a new tale of an elegantly groomed Messiah, keeping energy levels high through a cabaret of snappy comic vignettes – like the appearance of Jesus’s teenage rock/grunge outfit, tightly choreographed upbeat musical numbers, and a warbling fake-moustachioed three wise men (Amy Scott, Lindsay Ashworth-Fraser and Kirsty Malone).
Wilson holds the audience with frequent shifts in tone and pace. From the ribbon twirling, energetic, and athletic choreography to an earnestly delivered tribute to Jesus’ misunderstood Datsun: Judas, Wilson’s writing, choreography and stagecraft is dynamic. Occasionally, the manic imagery of Wilson’s character seems to outstrip his comedic writing but any awkwardness is covered by the excellent supporting cast: Miguel Belotto’s intensely preening Peter and Lucy Hutchison’s manically buzzing Mary Magdalene.
Christ on a Bike is tightly packed with jokes, puns, and references, and even a centrepiece sermon on the subject of love that sees Wilson deliver a spoken word medley of love songs that’s something akin to a cross between Axis of Awesome’s 'Four Chord Song' and the musical career of William Shatner. Enough to make anybody proclaim 'HalleBerrylujah!'