views from the gods

saints and sinners of the stage and screen

Resurrection Half Price
Etcetera Theatre
24th August 2015

★★★☆☆

Carmen Arquelladas and Simone Tani as Mary and Jesus

Photography provided by Teatro Pomodoro

I once took a budget flight with an infamous yellow and blue airline and whilst it certainly won't feature in my list of all-time favourite travel experiences, I'm not sure I'd compare it to wearing a crown of thorns and being nailed to a cross. It wasn't that bad. It certainly wasn't worth anyone wearing a crown of thorns and being nailed to a cross so I could make that journey. I mean, if you're going to make that kind of sacrifice for me, I expect my outbound airport to not be a giant tent, my destination airport to be somewhat closer to the city I'm going to, and for there to be more food available on the flight than an overpriced cellophane encased cheese sarnie.

When you first see Jesus (Simone Tani) and Mary (Carmen Arquelladas) going on holiday, you might jump to the conclusion that Resurrection Half Price is some kind of criticism of certain low-cost airlines, but actually, it has a slightly different focus. There are many people who believe Jesus died so we could live, and what we're doing now is effectively his legacy. It doesn't really matter one jot whether you believe in this, the question of whether we're making the most of modern life is one that we can all reflect on. Are so all so obsessed with getting everything and doing everything as cheaply as possible that we've lost sight of the biggest picture? Has consumerism taken over?

This is a surreal production by the very nature of its concept - the son of God getting off to somewhere sunny - and it's carried out with a fitting level of strangeness. From Jesus trying to get his cross to meet carry on luggage dimensions to having an inflight drink of bloody tears, often what we're watching is so bizarre that we feel like we're having an out of body experience. The pair make the most of silences, often staring into the audience grinning, without saying anything, until we feel uncomfortable. The deliberate mismatch between the seriousness of the debate started by Tani and Arquelladas and the the levity of their clowning style feels disorientating. That's not to say this isn't an enjoyable show, it's just one where you may leave wondering if you actually saw what you think you did, or if you were on some kind of drug-induced trip.

The execution (no pun intended) of this piece is undeniably slick, with props concealed and then whipped out at just the right moments. Tani and Arquelladas are bouffons, but a lot of planning goes into coming across this ramshackle. It may not be for everyone, but you can't not marvel at the creativity of their vision and how they've actually managed to deliver this.

Surreal, irreverent and cheap. The ticket price that is, not the content. Resurrection Half Price promises a serious look at modern society, together with the opportunity to chat to the son of God and if you're lucky, even touch him. Very odd, but in a good way.

Resurrection Half Price opened on 24th August and runs until 27th August 2015 at the Etcetera Theatre, as part of the Camden Fringe.

Nearest tube station: Camden Town (Northern)



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