by Peter Goldsworthy
Directed by Mike Russo
Three weekends from Friday September 7, 2012 – Friday and Saturday at 8pm and Sundays at 5pm.
The stage adaptation of Honk If You Are Jesus was commissioned by the State Theatre Company of South Australia for the 2006 Adelaide Arts Festival, and was directed by Martin Laud Gray in conjunction with the author, noted Australian novelist, Peter Goldsworthy. Honk If You Are Jesus is a comedy about the big ethical issues around science, religion and cloning; a story weaving ambition, animal-attraction, future-shock and resurrection, and where the moralities of its characters are very, very blurry. It is a razor-sharp satire with immediacy and anarchic energy; an Australian and a global story with themes that are universal and battle-lines that are inter-cultural. In 2006 Honk If You Are Jesus won the ‘Ruby’ Award for Best New Work; The Advertiser ‘Oscart’ Award for Best Play; the ‘Curtain Call’ Award for Best Comedy; and was nominated for ‘Helpmann’ awards in two categories.
Honk If You Are Jesus is essentially the story of Mara Fox’s responses when she is inadvertently tricked into assisting with the cloning of a very famous, historical character. It is about her deeply personal journey along an uneasy ethical road, in a landscape full of inconsistencies and dilemmas and strewn with romantic temptations and apparent betrayals. It’s a serious comedy that, beneath its comic overtones, asks some important questions about our future in the ‘technological age’; who should have the right to determine it; and whether, as a species and as individuals, we still want to use our capacity to think and feel, rather than simply act by default or disengage and take the consequences.
The Drill Hall Theatre Company presented “Honk If You Are Jesus” at the Drill Hall Theatre, Mullumbimby, for three weekends from Friday September 7; directed by Mike Russo with a cast featuring Robynn Goddard, Greg Aitken, Sam Hemphill, Eva Robinson, Jasper Wilson, Jennie Hicks and Kasadevi Curtis.
Peter Goldsworthy has impressed at more than one Byron Bay Writers’ Festival by his deeply felt and beautifully expressed humanity. If you have read the novel you will want to see how well it has been adapted to the theatre and, whether you have read the book or not, you will not want to miss the chance to see a modern Australian masterpiece by one of our most noted current authors.
by Ray Moynihan, Byron Shire Echo, 18th September 2012
For lovers of theatre, the play closing this weekend at Mullumbimby’s Drill Hall is a godsend. Adapted from a best-selling novel Honk if you are Jesus this irreverent and timely production is as intelligent and engaging as it is enjoyable.
The hilarious story is set in a private Christian university on the Gold Coast, run by a bible-bashing Reverend Schultz, whose dramatic sermons are performed with panache by Greg Aitken and whose young third wife, Mary-Beth, is brought to life ably by Eva Robinson.
Traversing the minefields of science and religion, sex and fertility, the play’s narrative is intimate, fresh and surprising. As the characters seduce and beguile each other, the play exposes a religion that looks more like a shonky business, and an ethically-challenged science that looks more like a shonky religion.
While the direction and acting is solid, the blazing performance of the red-headed lead Robynn Goddard is outstanding. Playing Mara Fox, the ambitious and frank IVF professor, Goddard brings a sensual magic to the stage, reminding the audience of the intense physical power of live theatre.
Watching Goddard and her colleagues perform last Friday night, there was a palpable sense of theatre’s renaissance in the northern rivers – a local growth industry that doesn’t kill koala habitat or further poison stressed waterways, and still provides a great night out.
Director Mike Russo is also optimistic, both short and long term. He says every performance of Honk if you are Jesus is getting better, and he thinks the closing shows this weekend will be ‘really something’.