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Jesus Hopped the “A” Train 

Do not miss this powerful tale of two prisoners--superbly written, directed and performed

Wednesday, Apr 4 2007
On a gray concrete set, deftly standing in for Riker's Island Prison in New York, two adjacent cells hold two murderers. One is Angel Cruz (Daveed Diggs), an atheist on trial for shooting a reprehensible cult leader in the ass, and the other is Lucius Jenkins (Carl Lumbly), a brutal serial killer and born-again Christian. Thus the setup: an "angel" in one cage, a "devil" in another. What ensues is a masterful debate about anger, innocence, lying, and ultimately being "right" in God's eyes. Diggs' intellectually articulate delivery is finely nuanced with a voice edged with vulnerable tears, and Lumbly effortlessly makes Lucius soulful and inspirational — a difficult task. This wouldn't be possible without Stephen Adly Guirgis' spitfire dialogue that builds, twists, and relentlessly questions characters' motivations. Guirgis adeptly spins the debate: Will you lie for what you believe in, or will you step up and pay a bigger price for that belief? This is one of those singular theatrical occasions when a top-notch script is helmed by a solid director (Bill English) and performed by a splendidly skilled and committed cast. Gabriel Marin is deceptively charismatic as the corrections officer bent on breaking inmates. Susi Damilano, as Angel's compassionately torn attorney, and Joe Madero, as the kindhearted guard, round out the cast and bring a softness to this searing drama. It's rare that a night of theater can deliver on so many complex levels of intellect and emotion. This production should not be missed. — Nathaniel Eaton

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Nathaniel Eaton


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