Playwright: Rick Roberts. At: Polemic Theatre Company at Royal George Gallery Space, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave. Tickets: 312-988-9000 or PolemicTheater.com; $30. Runs through: Oct. 1
If you ever pondered what Jesus Christ and Lucifer might think about modern-day reality TV shows and diet cola, then you might want to check out Rick Roberts' world-premiere play Thee Trinity for the new Polemic Theatre Company. But be forewarnedThee Trinity comes off more like an exercise by Roberts in trying to shock staid audiences around ideas of faith, science and pop culture rather than being a concise play that doesn't overstay its welcome.
The premise for Thee Trinity is this: The fey and effeminate angel Gabriel ( Elias Rios ) and the more butch archangel Michael ( Adam Thatcher ) have called a meeting on the matter of the second coming of the Messiah. In attendance is Mike Jimerson as Jay ( the nickname for Jesus Christ ), Jocelyn Adamski as Holly ( the nickname for the Holy Ghost ) and Laura Stewart Obernauf as Lucy ( the nickname for Lucifer, who has decided on this occasion to take the form of a vivacious woman who loves to play Devil's Advocate whenever possible ).
While everyone is waiting for God Almighty to show up, Gabriel gets to call in former human witnesses like the scientist Albert Einstein ( Andrew Pond ), poet/playwright Oscar Wilde ( David Schaplowsky ) and terrorist mastermind Osama Bin Laden ( Scott Minches ) for advice. With such a diverse group, arguments arise from every direction amid quite a number of eye-rolling gay sex jokes.
One of many construction problems with Thee Trinity is that it needs better dramatic momentum and some severe editing of Roberts' ideas on theology. Topics of discussion between the characters often get repeated in both acts, and the pause for intermission doesn't come after a high moment of drama to leave audiences atwitter to find out what happens next.
Although religious debates dramatized through figures seen as holy will probably never go out of style, Roberts' Thee Trinity often feels like reheated goods meant to shock. The 2003 British musical Jerry Springer: The Opera does a far better job of mixing holy Christian characters amid pop cultural phenomena.
Even though they're saddled with a less-than-best script, the cast under the able direction Brian Rabinowitz do what they can with their characterizations. Particularly good is Pond, though you wish that his zany take on Einstein had better material to work with like Steve Martin's Picasso at the Lapin Agile or Friedrich DÃ¼rrenmatt's The Physicists. Instead, you get Pond as an aroused Einstein hitting on Lucy whenever possible.
As a new ensemble, Polemic Theatre Company appears to be producing Thee Trinity so it can get some notoriety via a succès de scandale. But really Thee Trinity is more of a dramatic muddle as it frequently scrapes the bottom of the barrel for its humor.