Performing Arts: Theater
November 18, 2017
Swinging from bar to bar, Lucius Jenkins (Edi Gathegi) projects a remarkable physical specimen. Lean and intricately buffed, Jenkins sharpens his mind by exercising his body. Oh and by the way, he’s incarcerated at Rikers. Spellbindingly charismatic, Jenkins has found a new way to live—by truth and by God.

A new inmate Angel Cruz (Sean Carvajal) kneels in the next-door jail cage desperately trying to repeat the Lord’s’ Prayer. Jeered by others, he stumbles over the words and hollers “Harold be thy name”—funny but dark, like the rest of the black humored drama.

That’s the beauty of Stephen Adly Guirgis’ ear. He’s tuned to street language, and urban rhythms muscularly scoring them into a chamber opera of charged emotional content.

The story centers around the two incarcerated men who share one hour of daylight in cages next to each other. Angel feels righteous about his attempt to kill a cult leader who brainwashed his friend. Sadly for Angel, his target died during surgical complications removing the gunshot lodged in his butt.

Lucius keeps questioning Angel’s beliefs, his moral compass and larger philosophical presence. A serial killer who killed blacks but did not suffer repercussions until he killed a few white people, Lucius is preparing – physically and psychologically for his destiny.

Directed by Mark Brokaw with harrowing physicality, Jesus Hopped the "A" Train gets under your skin. The image of the jail cages, men dropping on the floor to eat in a lawless cave is a gut - wrenching reminder about America’s dysfunctional penal system.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY – Celia Ipiotis

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