Thursday, 2 October 2014

Theatre Review: Simon Callow in The Man Jesus, Newport Riverfront

What a scoop for Newport Riverfront to play host to Matthew Hurt’s play The Man Jesus (Saturday, September 20, 2014) - a dramatic, energetic and funny one-man performance by the enigmatic Simon Callow.

Callow took the audience back some two thousand years to witness key moments in the life of “The Man Jesus” through the eyes of the people who knew him including his birth mother Mary, half-brother James, John The Baptizer, Simon, Judas Iscariot, Herod and Pontius Pilate.

In a day and age where people seemingly have less time and inclination to either embrace the Bible as anything but one dimensional stories, it was refreshing to see Simon Callow bring these scenarios to life with undeterred enthusiasm.

The play twisted and turned from comedy to drama.  Herod’s apparent compassion “I love my father – he’s dead!” was a stark contrast to Jesus causing a riot in the temple , which involved Callow throwing numerous chairs (a pile of which were his only props) across the stage.

Callow’s performance was faultless throughout switching through a variety of regional accents to bring depth and realism to the characters he portrayed. This was enhanced with careful lighting which the actor utilised to his full potential.

The Man Jesus brought a familiar collection of stories vividly to life through the performance of Simon Callow and deserves to be witnessed as a master class in the one-man performance. Should you have the opportunity to see it in the future – embrace it!

A version of this review by Andy Howells was published in The South Wales Argus on September 24, 2014

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