LA Weekly
November 27, 2013

Christmas 2

Jenny Lower

What if Jesus never got around to his public ministry -- what if the King of Kings instead remained an underachieving mensch with a hot wife and an overbearing mother, living in a rundown shack in Bethlehem? That's the half- clever premise of this double-cast, world-premiere play, written and directed by Jeff Goode, which marries a loose Christmas Carol plot structure with sitcom sensibilities. Despite a boozy, gyrating angel and Madonna/whore jokes aplenty, the story winds up neither as edgy nor as funny as it tries to be. The show's strongest moments involve the appealingly milquetoast Jesus (Nathan Wellman) and his firebrand cousin John (Anthony Backman), and some soul-searching by a morally compromised Roman centurion (Brett Koontz). But original humor and topical zingers get buried in the oppressively long, domesticated script. By the umpteenth "Did you look under the manger for your [fill in the blank]?" joke, it feels like an interminable episode of Everybody Loves Raymond. (Jenny Lower).