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Theatre Review: Jesus Hopped the A Train

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(Sacramento, CA)
Thursday, May 12, 2011

Lucius Jenkins is a long-time drug abuser, and a serial killer. His life choices have brought him to a high security prison, where he's working out in an exercise yard. He admits that he's committed horrible crimes. But to hear him tell it, he's a changed man now.

"Take away the vengance, Lord, swirling in my veins. Lobotomize the evil, Lord, slinking in my brain. Can't go back. Can't go back. Can't go back."

The more you learn of Lucius, the more you find difficult questions. Is this man conning us? He's lied in the past. And if he has truly been transformed -- and he makes a pretty convincing case -- should that transformation have any effect on the severe sentence that our legal system has imposed?

One person who isn't buying Lucius' story is the prison guard Valdez, who's about as prickly as a porcupine.

Valdez: "That cigarette that Droopy Dog is drawing on, did you give it to him?"

Lucius: "Yes, sir."

Valdez: "Well, THAT would be an infraction."

Lucius: "Oh, come on, man!"

Valdez: "Did you just say something?"

Lucius: "How's a man supposed to know that it's an infraction to give another man a cigarette when there ain't never was no other man up here except me till now."

Valdez: "You didn't read the manual. The manual says quite clearly.."

Lucious: "F*** your d***** manual!"

Valdez: "Take a day off from the yard, both of you, so you can reflect on infractions."

Lucius: "B***s***, m*******!"

This play contains an abundance of language that could make a sailor blush. It's not for the faint of heart or the easily offended. But the play also raises truly fascinating, very difficult questions about justice . . . not only what happens in a courtroom, but also what happens when your time on Earth is done, and your life is weighed in the balance by a higher power.

I should add that the acting in this production is fabulous, from all five members of the cast, and that director Stephanie Gularte keeps everything in tight focus, maintaining a gripping degree of tension for over two hours. It all makes for a top-notch show -- a remarkably strong piece of work for Capital Stage, a company that is really on a hot streak this year.

The Capital Stage production of "Jesus Hopped the A Train" continues through May 22nd.





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