New York | 2h 15m | Already closed

Jesus Hopped the 'A' Train

From 28 critic and 213 member reviews
Members say: Great acting, Absorbing, Great writing, Thought-provoking, Intense

About the show

Pulitzer Prize-winner Stephen Adly Guirgis ('Between Riverside and Crazy') begins his residency at Signature with a revival of his darkly comic meditation on redemption and faith. More…

Angel Cruz is a 30-year-old bicycle messenger awaiting trial for the death of the leader of a religious cult. Inside Rikers Island, a terrified Angel is befriended by a charismatic serial killer named Lucius Jenkins. Lucius has found God and been born again, and now, Angel's life and the course of his trial will be changed forever.


“First staged by the LAByrinth Theatre Company in July, 2000, Stephen Adly Guirgis' brilliantly titled ‘Jesus Hopped the “A” Train’ has been revived at the Signature Theatre in a riveting, savage and bleakly sad production directed by Mark Brokaw. Although dealing with the consequences-perhaps deserved, perhaps not-heaped upon two murderers, ‘Jesus Hopped the “A” Train’ is not without its humor.” Full Review

Theatre is Easy

“A breathtaking two-hour feat of humanity at its most relentless sincerity...Ferociously funny. Director Mark Brokaw stays true to the story and lets each character speak candidly to the audience. There are no superfluous stylistic choices, nor any theatrical ‘accessories’ to distract us from Guirgis' text. The result is an earnest and triumphant production without a single dull moment. Much kudos to the team of superb performers." Full Review

Front Row Center

“The train on which He has hopped is running in full glorious throttle in this production...Guirgis’ writing here is spare and direct. It has the urgency of life and death...The performances as spot on in every way. No loose ends. Just clarity, precision and engagement...Mark Brokaw‘s direction mirrors the writing in its simplicity and ease. This is one of those productions that makes you remember why you love the theatre – because it is transformative. Bravo.” Full Review


"This stunning revival incisively explores the possibility of morality without religion and the existence justice outside the law...Offering few answers or moments of relief, director Mark Brokaw's tightly staged production hurls these quandaries at us with the velocity of an express train making the run between 125th Street and Columbus Circle. Across-the-board stellar performances reinforce an already great play." Full Review


“A feral revival under Mark Brokaw’s direction...The fireworks come from the two prisoners and a playwright whose gifts for street poetry and philosophy are not attenuated by niceties. I would say he takes no prisoners but the opposite is the case. Especially as played with uncompromising ferocity by Carvajal and Gathegi, Angel and Lucius set the stage ablaze, in a production that has no business closing this week and ought to be on Broadway.” Full Review

More Than The Play Blog

"Spellbinding from the moment it begins, and intensely accelerates to a dramatic conclusion...Each actor portrays the many layers of their characters with clarity and honestly. They create moments that explode with urgency. Mr. Guirgis’ dialogue is zealous and masterfully woven. You MUST see this play." Full Review

Stage Buddy

“Guirgis’ characters have nothing (and everything) to lose, and so, they argue brilliantly. They argue to the death...Make no mistake, we’re on trial here as much as the defendants during the course of this compelling play...This is a solid cast...All of this excellent work is well supported with precise and smooth direction by Mark Brokaw. Get a ticket, hop a train, see this remarkable production.” Full Review

The Modernist Beat

"The revival of this work currently playing at the Signature does full justice to the script. Indeed, it feels more relevant now than it did in the waning days of the Clinton Administration...The playwright dazzles with easy elisions of the sacred and sacrilegious, but all the while he is laying the foundation of his moral inquiry – and that is what lasts...When theatre is doing its job – as 'Jesus Hopped The 'A' Train' surely is – then it communicates what it means to be human." Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

“'Jesus'… is a powerful drama, laced with biting humor. It not only shines a blazing light on the judicial and correctional systems but embraces deeply thoughtful themes of masculinity, faith, guilt, remorse, and responsibility…These…quarrels…are…among the most fascinating and engrossing on any New York stage…Carvajal and Gathegi…combine outsized acting, vocal power and flexibility, physical vitality, and the ability to exhibit emotions on both grand and subtle scales.” Full Review


"Stephen Adly Guirgis' superb drama of public morality and personal convictions...Brokaw directs a thoroughly compelling new production that graces the playwright's emotionally thick and thought-provoking piece with an excellent company...Given that the playwright never introduces us to the loved ones of those who were killed, Valdez helps the audience question where their sympathies should lie, making ‘Jesus’ all the more fascinating." Full Review

The New York Times

"When performed, as it is here, by a cast that can recreate its rapture as well as its moral gravity, it achieves the doubleness of great art, burrowing deeper the higher it flies...In a series of monologues that pull further back from the action, Hanrahan’s reflections on the case dissipate the tension. This slight flaw in the writing is exacerbated by a few awkward directorial choices...Brokaw has rightly focused on shaping the cast into a superlative ensemble." Full Review

Times Square Chronicles

"The intense characterizations and riveting dialogue make 'Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train' a roller coaster of a ride...Both Carvajal and Gathegi excel in this verbal wordplay that is like watching a boxing match between heaven and hell. Brokaw directs this powerful and thought-provoking play with layered wit and depth...This is a must-see for anyone who loves terrific acting and commanding and forceful theatre." Full Review


"Guirgis is the go-to guy for riveting monologues and choice dialogue exchanges...The author’s one-line zingers are just as pointed than his longer and more reasoned arguments on faith and redemption...Director Mark Brokaw has spring-wound this production so that taking too long a breath means missing something. Voices are so well orchestrated they’re as complementary as the colors of a painting." Full Review

Gotham Playgoer

"The black humor and marvelous urban patois are present, but are not well-blended with the long monologues and debates about morality, religion, and justice...The actors, particularly Carvajal and Gathegi, are marvelous...The direction by Mark Brokaw is assured and mostly succeeds in making the monologues flow into the rest of play. If you have a low tolerance for rough language or the description of violent events, you might be uncomfortable." Full Review


"Not only has time done nothing to dim the topicality of 'A Train,' being given a brilliantly acted revival under Brokaw’s beautifully economical direction, but the intervening 17 years since its New York premiere have only brightened its intensity and focus. A deeply intelligent and highly philosophical work, Guirgis’ play asks provocative questions...Brokaw wisely keeps the focus on the actors and Guirgis’ words...As unsettling as the ride can be, this 'Train' is definitely worth boarding." Full Review

The Huffington Post

"Guirgis surprises us with street-savvy but elegant prose, smart, lacerating and viciously funny...Carvajal and Gathegi both give chilling and human performances, under the assured hand of director Mark Brokaw. They are well supported by Erick Betancourt, as a friendly guard; Stephanie DiMaggio, as a legal aid lawyer; and especially Ricardo Chavira as the brutal jailer...Guirgis is a tantalizing street poet.” Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"Stephen Adly Guirgis, Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, writes with guts and blood and not for the faint of heart...The play is awash with minor and major monologues like pop ups that arise in empty spaces with it’s own humor and one-liners and a symphony of themes...The play is powerful, the actors riveting, as Mark Brokaw drives the production with insightfulness." Full Review


"The play still warrants all of the praise I heaped on it then. In retrospect, it was not the tentative work of a newbie finding his bearings, but the full-throttled, confident and adept work of a young writer of immense talent...It's the play that's compelling, and the fine actors are wonderful stewards of Guirgis's words...Directed with a careful but light hand by Mark Brokaw...'A Train' is not a hard play to watch, because its intensity is lightened with lots of humor." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"This fascinating, troubling drama begins on a bleakly hilarious note...One of Guirgis' early works, and his inexperience shows...Still, the playwright's skill is evident in the gorgeous arias given to his three main characters and for any number of scalding exchanges...Mark Brokaw's production improves on the original in just about every way." Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

"A superbly acted revival...Reveals a young playwright's awkwardness with its overwritten passages and reliance on expository monologues. But it also displays incendiary passion and insight into its troubled characters, qualities that are fully realized in this riveting production staged by Brokaw...The two leads deliver superb performances...It remains a vital, pulsating drama by an ascending playwright whose early promise has been richly fulfilled." Full Review

Theatre Reviews Limited

"'Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train' carefully strips away the façade of 'right and wrong,' 'innocence and guilt,' and 'good and bad' to expose the horror of 'discarding' human being...The play also resounds with the horrific wonder of the cycle of redemption...The play raises rich and enduring questions regarding justice and morality; moral ambiguity; and guilt and innocence...Gathegi’s performance is haunting and exhilarating." Full Review

This Week in New York Blog

"The play is not an activist exposé of the penal system as much as a searing journey into the battle for the soul of humanity...Without getting pedantic or simplistic, Pulitzer Prize winner Guirgis explores many basic dichotomies...Brokaw directs with a strong but understanding hand, giving room for the actors to intersect with Guirgis’s sharp language...Gathegi doesn’t just speak his lines but he lives every word...An exciting beginning to Guirgis’s Signature Residency." Full Review

The Wrap

"Guirgis has written an issue play, with a capital 'I'...And he’s built it on the back of some rat-a-tat dialogue and exchanges of ideas that continually reveal the capacity to surprise...It’s in those Sorkin-like exchanges that dance around Big Ideas without ever settling on even Medium-Size Conclusions, that Guirgis‘ work shines...'Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train' still packs a punch." Full Review

Show Showdown

“Some of the expository monologues feel a little forced, and some of the plot points that propel the moral haze driving the show feel a little too easy...’Jesus Hopped the 'A' Train’ may be a flawed play, but it delivers anyway. And the production--which, like its characters, seems to have taken some pretty hard punches along the way--is well worth your time and consideration. Kudos to the company for turning a bad situation good.” Full Review


"Steven Adly Guirgis...has a unique ability to find the music in profanity, to reveal the presence of the divine among the depraved." Full Review

Great acting, Epic, Resonant, Thought-provoking

See it if You're looking for a stunningly acted powerhouse drama that ponders the big questions - from writing to staging to acting it is flawless!

Don't see it if You're not looking for an intense evening at the theater - it's often laugh out loud funny, but definitely not a lighthearted, easy show.

Riveting, Masterful, Great writing, Great acting

See it if whether or not you are a fan or familiar with the playwright. My friends and I were blown away! Best show all year! the acting was amazing

Don't see it if No reason. I guess if you are offended by swear words.

Also Guirgis has become my new favorite playwright. Such a profound, moving... Read more Read less

Masterful, Great writing, Great staging, Great acting, Intense

See it if You like powerful yet compelling writing and acting. Strength of friendship, lunacy, corruption. Great theatre!

Don't see it if You're turned off by foul language, prisons, intense acting and references to god. You're open open minded.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Relevant, Timely

See it if you enjoy a fast-paced and fascinating story

Don't see it if you prefer light musical theater

Absorbing, Clever, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Deep

See it if you love great acting by incredible actors. The directing is very well done. There is a perfect blend of humor and intense emotion.

Don't see it if you don't like swearing, or if you don't like prison-based plot-lines.

Also This show is even more incredible when you realize that both lead acto... Read more Read less

Great writing, Must see, Profound, Relevant

See it if you want to see great theatre, this is the best.

Don't see it if you are an ol' fuddy duddy

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Intense, Funny

See it if you love great dialog & acting, and theater that expands your thinking and feeling in ways you never expected.

Don't see it if You wish only for light entertainment.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Relevant, Profound

See it if you care to see human beings grappling with questions of meaning and morality; freedom and imprisonment. Profound and beautifully acted.

Don't see it if you aren't interested in the human soul.

Edgy, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Great acting, Great staging

See it if Serious theater with a political edge

Don't see it if You like lighter fare

Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent, Masterful, Must see

See it if you appreciate great acting, great writing and well thought out ideas delivered to perfection

Don't see it if No reason not to see it

Ferocious, Miraculous, Dizzying, Riveting, Profound

See it if Unexpected sides of characters emerge in jail and work God’s will. What is freedom? Brilliant writing and acting. Mesmerizing dialog.

Don't see it if You are not up for a very intense experience that poses deep questions.

Better than the original—and the original was excellent!, Absorbing, Riveting, Thought-provoking, Great acting

See it if your want to see one of Guirgis' early plays performed by a first-class ensemble with astute direction by Mark Brokaw.

Don't see it if you don't like intense dramas or an overuse of the "F" word. This is taut, riveting theatre—not for the "Hello, Dolly!" crowd.

Great acting, Great writing, Dizzying, Absorbing, Masterful

See it if You enjoy intense drama, wonderful acting and brilliant writing that elevates language.

Don't see it if You are in the mood for fluffy fare.

Also Despite its dark world and complex morality, the play is also very fun... Read more Read less

Riveting, Profound, Must see, Great acting, Great writing

See it if You appreciate outstanding acting and a truly magnificent play.

Don't see it if You are upset by descriptions of violence.

Absorbing, Funny, Must see, Riveting

See it if you want to see a classic by Guirgis. It's performed beautifully and is a very absorbing story.

Don't see it if you don't like profanity or prison dramas. This isn't for everyone, but I sure loved it!

Also I don't usually love a show with long monologues directed at the audie... Read more Read less

Great acting, Great writing, Great staging, Relevant, Thought-provoking

See it if You're a fan of thought-provoking theatre about social issues and want to see some excellent acting.

Don't see it if If you don't like plays at are emotional or upsetting.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Must see, Disquieting

See it if you like an engrossing story and exceptional acting in a play encompassing topics of morality, religion, justice, race and inevitability.

Don't see it if you have no interest in prison themes or those who are incarcerated, along with their reactions to themselves and their crimes.

Absorbing, Great acting, Edgy

See it if A play which we all need to see if we really want to know about our penal system and the attitudes which prevail on the inside.A must see.

Don't see it if If you like burying your head in the sand about the realities of prison life and it's failures.The cast showed you what it's like inside.

Also The acting was superb.The characters emitted a real sense of reality a... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Profound, Great writing, Intelligent

See it if You want to be over-whelmed by brilliant writing and acting. The energy produced by the actors will have you wound-up for days. Bravo !

Don't see it if if you can’t handle two guys with only street creds discuss god, right vs. wrong, the limits of friendship/responsibility or the F word.

Ambitious, Edgy, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Intense

See it if You are interested in understanding your own reaction to a charismatic character and the slow revelation of that character during the play

Don't see it if You dislike dark themes and psychological complexity.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Relevant, Resonant

See it if you like gripping contemporary urban drama.

Don't see it if you want light fare, or simple black and white approaches to social issues.

Absorbing, Great acting, Edgy, Ambitious, Great writing

See it if You enjoy intelligent theatre

Don't see it if You can not follow dialogue closely

Stark gritty emotional drama!, Profoundly written and acted., Absorbing

See it if You like darker, strong evenings of tense theater. You want to hear grit and tense themes. You like 'Law & Order' to the extreme!

Don't see it if Your choice in theater is fluff and sweet times. You can't get there this week. It's closing soon.

Resonant, Relevant, Riveting, Thought-provoking, Great acting

See it if you love superb writing and acting you love intense drama

Don't see it if you want something light and fluffy you are offended by language

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Great writing, Must see

See it if you are interested in themes of "crime and punishment", religion/ redemption, individuals vs. the system, questions of free will/ god's will

Don't see it if the above subjects are not your idea of a fun night out (although the play is highly entertaining/ quite funny) don't like coarse language.

Also Allowing for the fact that this is early Guirgis, it is still brillian... Read more Read less

Cast & Creatives (12)