We've all been suspicious of how Mary really became pregnant with Jesus. I mean, Immaculate Conception? Come on! Well last year's sold out hit "Wisemen" is back to investigate just that. And while structurally it felt like it droned a bit, the sacrilegious hilarity is the perfect departure to the usual holiday theatrical fare.
So who really is Jesus' father? I mean we know it's not Joseph. Problem is, Joseph (Eli Rosenblatt) is all too aware of that too. So he hires the investigators and lawyers of Goldberg, Frankenstein, and Murray (David Bestock, Gavin Cummins and Matt Fulbright) to uncover the truth and find out who is Mary's baby daddy. But there are a few suspects as it turns out that Mary (Dorcas Lewis) is a bit ... well ... loose. Is it the effeminate next-door neighbor, is it the rapping Easter Bunny, or is it, as we've all been led to believe, God himself? And if it is God, what's with the whole, "Sure I impregnated her but I never touched her" angle? That's what the Wisemen are here to find out in a court complete with Santa Claus and The Pope.
What authors Bestock and Rosenblatt have done is to take an irreverent look at the worlds biggest urban legend, thrown it onto a stage, put a kick ass band behind it for the many musical numbers and amped the chaos up to 11. All of which equates to a very fun evening. As I said, the structure, especially in Act One, felt a bit off as they were trying to introduce so much exposition. But once they got going and got to the court case in Act Two, the pace really took off.
The ensemble is insanely funny. Each taking on multiple roles, they blend together to form a nearly seamless comedy whole. Each has their moments to shine. Rosenblatt's frustrated Joseph is hysterical. Cummins' Russian Jewish Cowboy Lawyer is a mélange of genius and his Act Two argument with himself as Santa is a sight to behold. Fulbright kills as the Irish Jew on the team as well as the possible (yet not likely) father. Lewis not only brings the laughs as the wanton mother of Christ but also nearly brings the house down with her incredible voice. But I have to say that Bestock was the standout for me with his exceptionally varied characters as he went from Lawyer to Pope to Rapping Bunny with ease and completely sold all his numbers.
All in all a fabulously fun show with some really innovative staging (gotta love that camel). With this kind of wit it's no surprise that they were such a hit last year and that they had such a following in the house the night I went. I have to say, I do love me some off kilter holiday shows and this one is about as off as you can get.
"Wisemen" performs at ACT through December 22nd. For tickets or information contact the ACT box office at 206-292-7676 or visit them online at www.acttheatre.org.
Photo credit: Mark Stone photography