Review – Come Heckle Christ
No one knew exactly what to expect from this performance, including Jesus Christ himself (Joshua Ladgrove). We entered the room to find ‘Christ’ sticky taped to a makeshift cross made from two fence palings purloined from the neighbour’s fence only hours earlier.
The room was full to the brim with comedians and onlookers who had come to find out what this strange one-off show was all about. The tension in the room was electric. Before Christ had said a single word nervous titters were bouncing around the room and triggering more nervous laughter. Taboo was the theme and it was being kicked around the room like a soccer ball.
Christ, in a robe made from a bed sheet and more sticky tape stared unwaveringly into the audience, and in a peaceful voice, invited his children to heckle. And heckle they did.
They started at a trickle, but built up thick and fast. There were questions about the meaning of life, there were blatant attacks, there were counter-heckles, there were requests and callback heckles. The fourth wall got a solid massage as references to Ladgrove’s other persona Dr. Professor Neal Portenza flew about the room. As a group we explored the spontaneous art form that is the perfect heckle, and tested just how far people were willing to press blasphemy. Where was the line?
Jesus was queried as to whether he was ‘dying on stage’. Why doesn’t Jesus’ body come in a gluten free option? Heckles ranged from sophisticated biblical references to a routine callback of “Shut up, Jesus”. If the performance was a test of taboo, it seems the line was drawn at attacks on Islam and the B-word.
Of all the heckles, one stood out. The show fell on the same time that the final episode of Breaking Bad was taking place – many there had foregone the opportunity to watch the finale to be here. But in one bold and well-executed heckle, an unknown girl spoilered the entire room. The response was almost enough to lift the roof off the building.
Perhaps we were witnessing the revenge of a roomful of comedians finally being permitted the chance to pay back those heckles that had plagued their own performances. This rare opportunity for role reversal between performer and audience created a deeply unique, terrifying and exhilarating experience.
This was the most memorable and daring performance I’ve seen at any Fringe: it was truly sacrilicious. And I only hope other Festivals get to see this.