Theatre and dance reviews
Jerry Springer - The Opera @ Opera HouseKevin Bourke
JERRY Springer - The Opera is emphatically not a show for the faint-hearted.
It's vulgar, foul-mouthed and unashamedly blasphemous. But the satirical show, which opened at Manchester's Opera House last night, is also original, provocative and hellishly funny.
Any show in which Jesus admits to being "a little gay" and God descends towards the stage on a swing singing It Ain't Easy Being Me, is pushing the bounds of acceptability. But does that mean no-one should see it?
When the show was being tried out in a small arts theatre in London, then selling out at the Edinburgh Festival and subsequently on the London stage, no-one seemed to think so.
It was only when it was due to be shown on TV that the furore broke out. That's an irony that can't have escaped writers Stewart Lee and Richard Thomas, who set out to satirize not simply religion, but the craziness of the media, including the Jerry Springer show.
Their creative master-stroke has been in setting that madness in a mock-heroic, operatic pastiche style in which the passions and obsessions of trailer-trash America seem strangely appropriate, yet still utterly barmy.
Jerry Springer (played by M.E.N. Theatre Award-winning actor Rolf Saxon) protests, "I don't solve problems, I televise them," when he is compelled, for his sins, to chair a showdown between God and the Devil, the section of the show that has provoked most controversy.
Personally, I find this second half less compelling, more striving for effect, than the utterly demented first half, set during Jerry's earthly programme. But that doesn't mean that this is not an audacious and scandal- ous, yet ultimately moral and challenging show that's recommended to anyone who can accept the odd dose of outrage in their lives.
Jerry Springer - The Opera will be at the Opera House until Saturday, April 1. '10 - '28. Call the Box Office on 0870 060 1768 for tickets or click here .
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