by Nikolas Reda-Castelao
On this stage is a podium and four seats perched with microphones were arranged before a choir. The song began, welcoming the cast to the stage where they found their seats. The show is about a pastor of a recently solvent church who makes a controversial sermon that drives a schism in both the church and his personal life.
The Christians has so very little going on in terms of its staging, costuming and audio design. It is designed to imitate the chancel of a typical Episcopalian or Baptist church. It is through the sermon that were made aware of just how large this church is, easily tripping into the famed mega-church. The choir sits fixed most of the play, with brief lapses of hymnals and worship songs.
The show accelerated through its runtime almost solely on the immaculate writing, giving an amazing soul through the rapture of its actors. Not a single actor on that stage was too lesser a capable portal of the many emotions brought about by the subject of religion, and there are too many to even note. Of particular genius was Andrew Garman, playing the main pastor; there is a personal difficulty in watching a man so convinced in his beliefs have to wipe the snot from his face as those beliefs drive the world further and further from him. He preaches at the beginning, “I have a profound desire to communicate, but the distance between us is insurmountable,” and finds himself, by the end, so distraught by his failure to reach this spiritual goal
The play is a sermon and a parable onto itself. It is a piece of narrative so metaphorically and tightly succinct that it almost demands repeat viewings. It gives the audience a sensation of religion, of being in the parish, of experiencing the tribulations and hardships of faith and its contradictions and the pain of radical change. It was tremendously moving for myself, someone who has been alienated from religion and religious people. It is transcendent. It is a church of the sins of church, and its redemption. “The Christians” is a play that leaves you reflecting on the ideas of faith and religion through personal introspection.
“The Christians” finished its run at Playwrights Horizons, 416 W. 42nd St a month ago.
Nikolas Reda-Castelao is a Staff Writer. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org