WYRD and Necessary Angel production

Created by Rick Miller and Daniel Brooks

Dates 28 March – 7 April 2007 Venue Vancouver East Cultural Centre Reviewer John Jane

As film-makers Norman Jewison and Mel Gibson will attest, attempting to present a secular version of the story of Jesus is a sure way of courting controversy and criticism. By bringing his one-man show to the ‘Cultch’ during holy week, Rick Miller and his co-creator, Daniel Brooks demonstrate they are not afraid of denunciation or disparagement.

In the preamble Miller explains that he will be using the Liturgy of the standard Catholic Mass as the cornerstone, but endeavors to include the whole audience by suggesting that on hearing his references to “God” they can accept the formal Christian doctrine of the Holy Trinity, substitute the deity of their own choice or simply regard “God” as just a three-letter word.

Miller proclaims himself as a lapsed catholic and declares that in his own personal mindset, Christianity is not the only route to salvation; (nothing new so far) then from this point, he goes on to prove that nothing is Bigger than Jesus. Miller shows in his characterizations, that two thousand years after his death, Jesus continues to be a potent and powerful force, inspiring a devout following in the Christian world and is at the very least a respected prophet everywhere else.

Miller moves the show along at a frenetic pace portraying Jesus revisiting the world as a modern-day Rabbi, then a spellbinding, southern preacher challenging his flock to “Wake up Jesus” then as a deferential flight attendant on Air Jesus. It’s in the early phase that Miller’s powerhouse talent shines through. The show depends heavily on his connection with the audience and Miller takes these simulacrums close to the theatrical edge.

I even wondered at this point whether he could maintain this energy level for the entire performance. The short answer is – he doesn’t. He starts to run out of steam at the same time that he relies on technology. Perhaps the show's greatest strength, the use of a live video editing, is also its single weakness. Miller recreates The Last Supper by moving 4-inch high plastic action figures around on a tiny section of the stage floor. Difficult to see even in a small venue like the Cultch; but peering at this projected on to a white backdrop had the effect of watching television in a crowded room.

Taking the title from John Lennon’s infamous, misinterpreted claim, Rick Miller and Daniel Brooks have created a wildly entertaining coup de theatre, but it certainly isn’t spiritually uplifting.

© 2007 John Jane