Jesus Hopped the A Train

In staging Stephen Adly Guirgis' 2000 prison drama, Azeotrope has knocked this production out of the park, swinging at rich and thorny material with explosive honesty and superb acting. The story is set in the Rikers Island cellblock of born-again serial-killer Lucius (a charisma grenade with one name: Dumi) and lapsed Catholic Angel Cruz (Richard Nguyen Sloniker). New boy Angel, in for shooting a cult leader who "stole" his best friend, accepts Lu's kindness but not his proselytizing. The tale brims with backstory, twists, and provocative questions. Some are resolved by character monologues that break the proscenium, usually a pet peeve, but they feel like genuine conversations in the intimate Eulalie Scandiuzzi Space. As Angel's case develops, director Desdemona Chiang's gracefully avoids the formula of TV crime-show procedurals. We feel the urgency of a friend's judicial ordeal. Guirgis His play asks us to consider how the right thing may not be the legal thing. And how the legal thing may be right but abhorrent. MARGARET FRIEDMAN [See Margaret's full review.]

Thursdays-Sundays. Starts: June 14. Continues through June 30, 2012

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