Top critical review
on 29 December 2012
As ever, a new production of JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR provokes excitement and thought - this one more of a HAPPENING, performers rather dwarfed by the scale of it all. DVD offers a better view than the audience had - large screens there needed to keep them in the picture.
Full appreciation of each fresh version may be a generation thing. Whilst carried away here by the sheer energy, I confess to being more moved by earlier renderings - the original West End production, even the film (which neither Andrew Lloyd Webber nor Tim Rice liked). Emphasis in both was more on two thousand years ago, but with reminders the tale is for all times. Judea then was a tiny part of the Roman Empire, Jesus a minor irritant but his influence growing. If local authorities could not stop him in his tracks, the might of Rome could descend - the country crushed. This was Judas' fear.
Although admiring the adrenalin involved in this production, I feel key issues and motivations somewhat blurred - Jesus, Mary, etc. rather swallowed up amidst the technology, even the crucifixion subjected to excesses which reduced the impact deserved. Only Tim Minchin's Judas rises above it all - his agony convincing, regret heartfelt, suicide movingly staged.
Interesting bonuses (perhaps worth watching before the performance itself?). Entertainingly bubbly, Andrew Lloyd Webber describes how JCS has evolved from its concept album. (Note his blunt views of the original Broadway production.) Also enjoyable is the Behind the Scenes feature.
Here is a rock opera always with much of value to offer. Fans will invariably have a favourite version (perhaps the first one seen?). Despite reservations about this particular ambitious portrayal, I can appreciate how it fired the imagination of so many who saw it.