Reviewed for [The Stage](http://www.thestage.co.uk/reviews/review.php/26128/busted-jesus-comix)
Above the Stag, London
Author: David Johnston
Director: Prav Menon-Johansson
Producer: Above the Stag
Cast: Henry Blake, Erin Hunter, Caitlin Birley, Peter Halpin, James Morrison-Corley, Michael James-Cox, Rege Page
Running time: 1hr
Based on the real life trial and conviction of an underground comic book writer, David Johnston’s pitch-black comedy acts as an indictment of censorship, while never quite focusing clearly enough to land any killer blows.
Structured as a series of flashbacks, Marco, played by Henry Blake, relives the events which led to his conviction on obscenity charges and the authorities’ attempts to out him on the straight and narrow that have more to do with justice being seen to be done than offering him the help he really needs.
Some of the more sinister elements of Marco’s treatment, including compulsory enrolment in a Christian ‘ex-gay’ mission aiming to cure him of his homosexuality, are played with broader comedic strokes than one might expect. Caitlin Birley’s psychiatrist is similarly played out as a larger than life, grandstanding figure, more interested in her theories than actually listening to her client. It’s not an unsuccessful approach by any means, but provides a variation of mood and tempo that doesn’t always work in the production’s favour.
Levity is abandoned for the finale, in which the otherwise buttoned-down Marco finally opens up about events hinted at throughout. The impression one is left with is of a satisfying, thought-provoking play.