There’s a lot of theatre to be had in the 90-minute production of The Life of Jude during this year’s SummerWorks festival. It’s a show that is hilarious and heartbreaking, biblical and raunchy, thought provoking and satirical all at the same time. It’s full of song, music and dance and many unexpected moments – well worth a visit during your SummerWorks excursions.
A young boy, Jude (Adam Kenneth Wilson), watches his father’s (Steve Cumyn) arrest for having murdered a man who was raping a woman. Growing up, Jude struggles with the concept of morality and God’s will in the face of what is right and wrong. In doing so, Jude turns in his own mother (Pamela Mala Sinha) when she murders a man in self-defense. Entering the priesthood believing he is chosen by God and leading his life by blind faith alone, Jude watches as the world he knows fall apart.
The Life of Jude is an original production written by Alex Poch-Goldin. It’s a musical with original songs and the members of the cast play the music themselves.
Accompanying me for the performance was fellow Mooney writer, Ashima; eager to get in as much SummerWorks into her schedule as possible. Having not heard much about this production, she found herself pleasantly surprised and also rather shocked.
Yes, the play is biblical in nature but what is unexpected are the number of sexually provocative scenes sprinkled throughout the story including one scene with full frontal male nudity. It’s not a show that’s appropriate for everyone, especially parents with small children. If implied sexuality offends you, this is not a play for you. Watching it was startling at first and often times felt uncomfortable (possibly also because we were sitting in the first row) but it didn’t distract from the rest of the story. Ashima wondered if that amount of sexuality was necessary for the story’s progression.
Unexpected sexuality aside, I still found myself enjoying the production. The musical quality of the show, with original songs and cast members playing instruments on stage, was a great hit. Though some of the song and dance felt rather hokey, the majority of the music and choreography was well constructed and presented. There were a few tableaus used in transitions that were incredibly well done.
Accolades to the full cast – great performances, great acting, spectacular voices, and a standout performance by Wilson whose emotions were rich, raw and powerful. You feel each of his great losses and you’re with him during his struggle to maintain his faith in the face of adversity and ultimately as it slips away. Sinha’s performance as Jude’s mother Teresa was remarkable and her singing voice is equally stunning. She stood out to me throughout the show and I found myself drawn to watching her even when her character slipped into the back to join the chorus.
There is a lot to take in when seeing The Life of Jude and all of it is palatable (for the most part, if sexuality and nudity don’t offend) and entertaining. Their opening night performance was met with a packed house and that, to me, is evident enough that this will be a monumental show in this year’s SummerWorks.
- The Life of Jude is playing at the Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace.
- Performances are Thursday August 8 at 4:00 pm; Saturday August 10 at 6:30 pm; Sunday August 11 at 4:00 pm; Monday August 12 at 9:00 pm; Tuesday August 13 at 1:30 pm; Friday August 16 at 6:30 pm; and Sunday August 18 at 1:30 pm.
- All individual SummerWorks tickets are $15 at the door (cash only). Tickets are available online, by phone at 416-915-6747 and at the Lower Ossington Box Office (100A Ossington Avenue, first floor) Aug. 6-18 10AM-7PM (Advance tickets are $15 + service fee).
- Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 3 shows.