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Bigger Than Jesus seeks answers through irreverence

Alice Abracen

June, 2010

Internationally acclaimed performer Rick Miller has returned to Montreal.

Miller – award-winning actor, comedian, and playwright, host of ABC’s primetime series Just for Laughs and creator of world smash MacHomer – will appear at the Fringe Festival with Bigger Than Jesus. The solo show is co-created and directed by Daniel Brooks, winner of the Siminovitch Prize for directing in Canada.

The poignant and hilarious multi-media “mass” questions historical and modern viewpoints of Christianity and has won international recognition.

The play pays homage to John Lennon and features Beatles music. Miller says the Four Evangelists reflect what the play is – a multi-faceted portrait of complex historical and religious figures in pop culture. “This show is for anyone still interested and curious about what Christianity is,” he says. “How complex it is, and how it got from a crucified Jewish man to a character on South Park.”

It is an examination of the story of Jesus, the growth of the Christian faith, and its shifting role in contemporary consciousness. It explores the writings of the evangelists, the context in which they wrote, and why their stories caught on. “It is a complex story, and seductive. Whether they believe it is truth or not, people have been inspired for 2,000 years to create some of the most inspiring art and commit some of the greatest atrocities in the history of the world. I film myself in a thorny crown and try to find some humour and some meaning.”

This tour-de-force provides a challenge to traditional belief without trivializing it.

“It’s not a judgmental play. It’s not just for lapsed Catholics. It has spoken to Muslims and Mormons, atheists and agnostics. And Jews, of course – it’s a powerful story about a Jewish mother holding her dead son.”

Miller notes the dichotomy between the reaction among senior audiences, whose upbringing had a much stronger emphasis on religion, and the largely areligious or agnostic younger generations who grew up in the wake of the Quiet Revolution.

“There are a lot of people who have realized that the Church and the Vatican are flawed. The play throws these ideas out in a reverential way. We’ve been embraced by the religious left. A lot of them are over 60 years old, and long for simpler times and a renewed feeling of community.”

The play includes the efforts of a New York Jew teaching a crash course on Christianity 101, the trade made by a preacher of the Church of Me, a crucifix for a mirror, and the answers offered by a flight attendant on Air Jesus, to prayers via his laptop camera, all adding up to a vital, dynamic performance.

Bigger Than Jesus runs till June 19 at Théâtre de Quat’Sous, 100 Pine Ave. E. 514-845-7277, 514-790-1245.



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