Religious Therapy

At the start of Jesus Rant, the house lights dim and a stool and two suitcases are illuminated. A man dressed in black pants, black converse sneakers and a “got jesus” tee-shirt comes from behind a curtain, quickly surveys his audience, takes a seat on the stool, and begins to talk. The topic at hand is Jesus Christ, if you haven’t guessed that already, and the speaker, H.R. Britton, over the course of his life, has become something of an expert on the subject. In a one hour one-man show Britton unpacks more than thirty years of religious angst generated by the Christian icon. Britton begins by recalling the first time that he was in the center of a familial prayer circle, a mildly amusing account that is followed by other examples of his participation in exercises of religious fervor. These stories are intended to be funny but the punchlines to his tales often get lost. Jesus Rant feels much like a shaggy-dog story that twists and turns but never gets to the point. This sense is exacerbated by Britton’s tone of voice, which seems intended to elicit a casual air, but comes off sounding merely uncomfortable. One gets the sense that he is still struggling to remember his lines.

In the latter half of the performance, Britton talks about his hobby or obsession with reading Christian propaganda. He shares numerous excerpts from books about Jesus that he has collected over the years, many that he pulls from the suitcases on stage. The physical representation of unpacking and re-packing of Jesus in his life conjures the idea that perhaps all of Britton’s anxieties could be alleviated if those suitcases on stage were traded in for a couch and an hour of therapy with a seasoned professional.

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