If you cannot laugh at religion, this particular Cincy Fringe performance is not for you. “The Gospel of Barabbas” presents a farcical, outlandish, hippie performance that I can guarantee you have never seen before. The swear words they use definitely were not in bible. Neither were their bongs and, well, neither was Twitter! But their existence is what make this story that much more ridiculous. It will have you questioning everything you thought you knew.
Barabbas, played by Rory Sheridan, performs his high on life role so well, you might get a contact from watching him. His lackadaisical attitude, selfish ways, short focus and spruced hair reminds you Tony Stark from Iron Man. Yes. Barabbas looks like a young Robert Downey, Jr. in a robe!
For those sitting in the first row, be prepared for overexaggerated leaps, spitting on the ground (watch your shoes), actors slapping each other and vapor smoke. You won’t get hurt or wet, but your laughing will be the first heard around the room and the last. You will also become friends with the person you are sitting next to, if you don’t already know them, from falling over each other laughing.
The story starts off with an angel literally handing out baby bumps. Yes, Mary and Joseph get a baby bump, but so does hippie chic, slow talking, cigarette smoking Blanche (and not Blanche from Golden Girls). She gives birth to Barabbas and when he is 12, burns him with her cigarette and sends him into the world.
After that, he begins to work at a call center selling Time Warner Cable packages. Zacharias takes him and throws him in the desert. He meets John The Baptist and all of a sudden, there is a cell phone, with Twitter. Barabbas begins trolling King Herald on Twitter.
He is thrown back into the desert and is awakened by a cat relieving herself on him. At this point, the audience is laughing uncontrollably. Barabbas runs into Trudy of Nazareth and he takes a liking to her. They continue to travel the desert looking for her brother, Jesus of Nazareth. While they are conversing about how hungry they are, the people that Jesus healed (in the real story) are walking back and forth across the stage.
First comes the blind woman. Then comes the beggar. Then comes the mermaid? I’ll admit I’m not in church every Sunday, but I don’t remember the story about the mermaid. I do not understand how any of the actors kept a straight face while playing their roles. None of them showed a glimpse of breaking character.
Moving along to the supper, salad is served for dinner and Barabbas sparks up at the table. If my grandmother was there, she would have groaned and hobbled her way out the door. Other people’s grandparents were in the audience, though, and they loved it! So now I think my grandmother is uptight, even though she hasn’t watched this performance. See! I told you this performance would have you questioning everything.
Barabbas is sent away from the table not only for smoking, but for bringing a pig to dinner. We all know why that is frowned upon. Now Mary is upset, in pain and crying and the only thing that can make her better is — you guessed it —Jimmy John’s! Because they have quick delivery. By the end of the night, you will have made the decision to stop by Jimmy John’s on your way home.
I want you all to know that even as I wrote this, I was still laughing uncontrollably. I also felt a little ashamed. I’m sure my grandmother wouldn’t be able to look me in the face right now.
Marissa Staples is a Cincinnati published author and writer for The Voice of Black Cincinnati. She developed her love of arts from her mother, Kandi. Being a native of Cincinnati, she loves to travel. If she is not traveling, you can find her reading, writing, volunteering or drinking wine. Wine always brings smiles, friends and creative dialogue.