I can’t tell if this production is bad, or pretending to be bad. Either way I wasn’t entirely won over by Messiah Man, a new play from Matt Fuller and Adam Lebovits.
It is a play really of two halves. In the first half, the unpredictable, zany humour and lighting gags are genuinely a joy to watch. The narrator, Jack Morgan, has a great rapport with the audience and indeed, audience interaction, in the form, not least, of the handing out of cucumber sandwiches, is a highlight. As we approach the second half however, there is a strange and very noticeable shift from the mad cap not-taking-this-seriously-and-actually-quite-funny section of the play, to the for-some-reason-we-are-trying-to-make-this-play-have-meaning-and-poignancy section. It just doesn’t work. Matt and Adam should sick to one or the other for this type of short, small-scale student production, or at least make it funny all of the way through.
The cast have oodles of energy and they clearly know what they are doing when it comes to comedy but lines are forgotten, cues not known (whether this is intentional or not I don’t know) and the pace slows right down. At one point the narrator wonders on and off the stage several times, unsure of his time to come on. Then, when he finally decides to stay on, he doesn’t know which light he is supposed to be standing under. This, I should add is funny the first time, convincing even as a joke, but after several times just becomes embarrassing. The ending, in which we are exposed to the ‘amazing God machine’, is quite frankly the biggest anti climax I have ever had the misfortune to behold, and that is not even a funny anti-climax either. The play, rather than going out with a hilarious bang, just, well, sort of, clunks to a stop.
All in all then, glimmers of hope, but this production needs to go back to the drawing board before it can really be something special.