Who: Syracuse Stage
Where: 82 E. Genessee St. Syracuse NY 13210
When: April 6-24
“The Christians” uses poignant narrative to engage with moral truths in a way that is challenging, yet riveting.
Penned by playwright-to-watch Lucas Hnath, this Syracuse Stage production tells the story of a respected pastor and the controversial sermon he chooses to deliver to his congregation. A message that not only threatens his reputation, but tests the loyalties of all involved.
Not only does the audience bear witness to this message, but they become a part of it. The house lights remain on during the production, allowing the audience to take in the forward-facing choir, familiar church-themed props of carpeted chairs, set-in-wood screen projectors and shiny dress shoes in what is effectively a church setting.
Pastor Paul, played by Paul DeBoy, switches between preacher-like monologues and the role of the play’s designated narrator. DeBoy combines the right amount of thoughtful emotion with the finesse of a motivational speaker delivering an impassioned message while side-stepping the usual prototype of the fiery, soulful preacher.
In stark contrast is associate pastor Joshua who makes it his mission to confront the convictions of Pastor Paul. Played by DeLance Minefee, Joshua manages to portray the brazen determination that ultimately morphs him into Paul’s rival.
“The Christians” doesn’t just speak to the religious, or focus solely on Christian doctrine. Rather it uses these themes as an entry point to explore not only the unique culture around church, but also the divisiveness that can occur amongst people of a singular culture when faced with difference. A truth that still rings true when such issues arise in our culture today.
“The Christians” accomplishes exactly what it set out to do, to alter perceptions in a way that forces us to explore the divide between us.