Chris Phillips' cannily written play examines the need to stand up against oppression and avenge violence with violence versus the necessity for love and forgiveness. The six scenes are alternately comic, brutal and surreal. The piece initially seems fragmented, but the interrelatedness of the scenes, and their thematic unity, gradually emerge. Among the more striking scenes are a flamboyant tango danced by Jesus Christ (Terrance Spencer) and Judas (Daniel Montgomery), wittily choreographed by Janet Roston, and a posthumous encounter between Matthew Shepard (Daniel Montgomery) and his assailant Aaron (AJ Jones). Ryan Bergmann has assembled a terrific team of actors, and directs them with skill and nuance. Robert Paterno scores as Jim, who's bent on wreaking terrible revenge on the man (John Colella) who raped and abandoned his lover. And there's a gem of a performance from Matthew Scott Montgomery, who brings fatalistic charm, fearful vulnerability, and impeccable comic timing to his two roles: He's Nelly, an effeminate actor who's limited to playing gay bit parts, while his ex-lover Butch (Jones), whom he both loves and resents, achieves far greater success by "acting straight." And he's also a young gay reporter interviewing his hero, a crusading gay journalist (Colella). Celebration Theatre, 7051B Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; through July 21. (323) 957-1884, celebrationtheatre.com.
Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Starts: June 14. Continues through July 21, 2013
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