On Stage

Mary and Joseph

Oh little town of Bellingham

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WHAT: Mary and Joseph…A Bible Story
WHEN: 7:30pm Thurs.-Sun., Dec. 18-21
WHERE: iDiOM Theater, 1418 Cornwall Ave.
COST: Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door
INFO: http://www.idiom theater.com

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Immaculate conception is pretty cool—unless you don’t believe in God, have never wanted to give birth to a baby, and have a sweet-but-stoned fiance who’d rather take bong hits on the floor with you than shop for furniture for your shared apartment.

Such is the case with Tim Greger’s Mary and Joseph…A Bible Story currently playing at the iDiOM Theater.

But, despite the reticence of the titular couple to embark on their own Christmas miracle, don’t go thinking that this modern-day take on one of the oldest stories around lacks the warm-and-fuzzy elements that make for prime holiday viewing.

In fact, it’s Mary and Joe’s initial unwillingness to enter into a truly sacred act—housing a second savior in a human womb—that makes the story that much more appealing. The fact that the big “G” has picked a couple of dope-smoking atheists to bring his son into the world makes for compelling viewing, and the capable cast brings the story to hilarious, sometimes heartwarming, life.

Mary is played with wondrous capability by Jessica Young, who returned to Bellingham from Los Angeles to reprise the role she first took on after Greger created the play during iDiOM’s 2013 Serial Killers competition (which, it’s worth mentioning, he won). The chemistry she shares with Greger—who played Joseph during the first go-round, and does so again during this full-length production—is both playful and passionate.

“Jessica returning was almost never even a question,” Greger told me after Friday night’s performance. “She just sort of never stopped being Mary. When I asked her to do the show again, it was almost like she thought it was a ridiculous question. From the get-go we were all excited to do it again, and do it better.”

Having seen a few of the Mary and Joseph episodes during last year’s theatrical battle, I’d agree that viewing it as a singular, cohesive production was immensely satisfying.

And, while Young and Greger once again nail it as a couple who slowly come to realize that God isn’t exactly who they thought he was (and that a vasectomy means nothing when it comes to his supreme will), I’d be remiss if I didn’t give props to the rest of the cast, as well.

Trevor van Houten, for example, wears his wings with authority as the angel Gabriel, who says things like “No one has sex with God—not even God,” waxes poetic about how effing wonderful Heaven is and, at one point, even drives a car. He’s funny, sure, but he’s also sincere, and that counts for a lot when you’re helping facilitate a miracle.

Joan Prinz and Peter Crandell take interesting turns as psychiatrists delving into Mary’s “delusions,” and, after Mary’s committed, patients Robin Corsberg (“It’s Magi, not Maggie”) and Cecilee Beck (Anna) help Mary see that her life is on the right track, after all. Finally, as a dope-dealing son of a preacher named Reggie, Christopher Coombs gives a mesmerizing and unforgettable monologue about the seven days of creation that had me wishing I could hit the “rewind” button.

While you probably won’t want to bring the kids along to this production—F-bombs are rampant, and there’s the marijuana consumption to consider—I feel comfortable recommending Mary and Joseph…A Bible Story to atheists, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, and everyone in between.

Greger agrees. “I’m very pleased with the final result,” he says. “The adaptation was a crazy, long, meticulous process, and I spent a lot of time working very hard to make it all seem effortless. I think that with a (partially) new and (totally) improved script, my cast and I have been able to create the type of show we’d love to go see.”

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