Connections » Profiles

The Christians

by Matthew Martello
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday May 23, 2017
The Christians

Faith, family, and individual beliefs are brought into question with Lucas Hnath's "The Christians," now performing at Cockroach Theatre in Las Vegas.

Pastor Paul (Darren Weller) is the spiritual leader of a successful mega-church. When he questions the existence of hell in a controversial sermon, he begins to lose not only parishioners but the support of elders who run the church, as well as Associate Pastor Joshua (Joe Basso), who was so upset by his words that he left the church to start his own. His wife Elizabeth (Gigi Guizado) also did not approve of his alternate viewpoint, jeopardizing his long-standing marriage.

The play is an interesting study of people and their convictions, as well as the frequent inability for society to embrace opposing viewpoints, whether it's within a church setting or elsewhere. It also offers a commentary on the many different ways a book such as The Bible can be interpreted, or perhaps manipulated to suit people's individual needs.

It was also made clear that any deviations from the accepted teachings endorsed by the elders of the church would not be tolerated. Sad and disturbing, but poignant and effective, "The Christians" is a play that many people, no matter their religious affiliation, should experience.

There are great performances with this production, as to be expected from a Mindy Woodhead directed show. Darren Weller and Joe Basso are superb as the pastors with conflicting viewpoints. Their conflict is genuine, with neither backing down in the name of believing what's true, or at least from their individual perspectives.

Gigi Guizado is effective as Elizabeth, conflicted with the duty of being the pastor's wife versus being completely opposed to his controversial viewpoint. Sabrina Cofield (Jenny) offered her usual strong performance as a parishioner who's genuinely worried about the church's split as well as Pastor Paul's viewpoint.

A last minute substitution due to an illness, veteran actor Gary Lunn was impressive as Elder Jay, a man who is troubled by Paul's straying of the church's unified path. The choir members did well in offering their welcomes as the audience members were entering the theater, offering praise songs traditionally found in mega churches.

Director Mindy Woodhead and her technical staff did a great job in re-creating an authentic mega church feel in an otherwise small black box space such as Cockroach Theatre.

"The Christians" is being performed through June 4 at Cockroach Theatre, 1025. S. 1st Street in downtown Las Vegas. For tickets and information, visit www.cockroachtheatre.com

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