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Jesus Hopped the 'A' Train

Members say: Great acting, Absorbing, Great writing, Thought-provoking, Intense
85
Critics
83
28 reviews
Members
86
206 reviews
 

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.

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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.

 

Cast & Creatives (12)



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Reviews (234)

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
83
Avg Score

90
Theatermania

"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

85
Variety

"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

85
BroadwayWorld

"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

80
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

85
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

60
Time Out New York

"These near-monologues are often gorgeous, but they can also be weirdly self-negating; in 'A Train,' they don’t even always make sense. Still, they’re full of rhetorical fireworks...Carvajal does beautifully, but DiMaggio seems to be performing for a larger room, while Gathegi infuses Lucius with fervor but insufficient danger. And the rocky production reveals a certain stasis in the play...Even as the speeches build in volume and intensity, they seem less and less connected to each other." Full Review

85
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

70
DC Theatre Scene

"Foul-mouthed, funny, and intense and thought-provoking, the play is a promising start to Guirgis’ 2017-2018 residency at New York’s Signature Theatre...These are roles that call for a ferocity that is always watchable, but not always easy to listen to. If their fervor in this production escalates too often into unrestrained shouting, that’s on Mark Brokaw, a prolific director best-known for comedies and musicals." Full Review

80
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

93
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

85
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

85
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

90
Deadline

“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

74
Front Mezz Junkies

“A powerful piece of writing about punishment, redemption, forgiveness, and prejudice wrapped up in God’s judgment and also societies vantage point...It’s a shame that Brokaw, who did this so well with the incredible 'Heisenberg' two-hander, fails to fluctuate the volume and speed of the train. Some variations of color and tone might have kept me leaning in more." Full Review

80
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

85
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

85
CitiTour

"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

95
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

85
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

95
TheaterScene.net

“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

75
scribicide

"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

80
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

80
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

80
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

90
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

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
86
Avg Score

80
Intelligent, Intense, Thought-provoking, Riveting, Great writing

See it if you like masterfully written dialogue about intense contemporary social analysis. It is heavy and intense but uplifting and funny. Bravo!

Don't see it if you don't want intelligent theater about gritty unnerving social injustice. The dialogue & themes are very NYC hood but easily transcendent

80
Great acting, Intense, Thought-provoking, Riveting, Great writing

See it if riveting performances. intense, poignant and thought-provoking. Intelligent debate on the nature of good & evil.

Don't see it if you dislike gritty portrayals of humanity and/or profanity.

73
Great acting, Relevant, Great writing

See it if You want to see great performances & are interested in a raw depiction of what it can be like in prison.

Don't see it if You have no interest in stories taking place behind bars or are offended by swearing.

83
Wonderful acting, Revelatory revival, Sensitive direction, Exuberant writing despite prison milieu

See it if you like the cascades of colorful language that define character for Guirgis; never has impotence and rage felt more hyperhythmic

Don't see it if questions of morality and grace among criminals don't engage you; profanity offends you; you are triggered by scenes of prison brutality

Also So glad I caught this revival before it closed. It wasn't at the top o... Read more Read less

90
Absorbing, Ambitious, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Powerful

See it if You like challenging, albeit gritty, work by a great playwright and outstanding leads about redemption, salvation and truth.

Don't see it if You don't like prison plays, discussions of Christian salvation, seemingly hopeless situations, lots of foul language and descriptions

80
Absorbing, Great acting, Resonant, Great writing, Slow

See it if You like good dramatic production. Could be a bit shorter.

Don't see it if You’re looking for upbeat entertainment

93
Absorbing, Great acting, Must see, Great writing, 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.

90
Great acting, Thought-provoking, Profound, Relevant, Excellent script

See it if you are open to a glimpse of what happens inside prisons; the lives leading up to getting there; and the possibilities of getting out.

Don't see it if are offended by swearing; can't handle prison scenes; don't want to hear about religion saving souls.

Also The acting was terrific all around but Edi Gathegi as Lucius and Sean ... Read more Read less

89
Gut-wrenching, great performances

See it if If you like Stephen Adly Guirgis's harsh comedy drama, you are interested in strong theater and the human condition.

Don't see it if you are in any offended by foul language, there is so much of it, you think our schools and prison systems do a good job, you want to laugh.

85
Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Masterful, Great writing

See it if Masterful use of language in this 5 character play. Guirgis is skillful at capturing the language of the characters. Topical. Fun at times.

Don't see it if If you want a 90 minute comedy. Drama about incarceration.

79
Absorbing, Edgy, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Indulgent

See it if you want to gain a birds-eye view of the inside of prison through the eyes of five characters, who you will never forget.

Don't see it if prison dramas and the F-word spoken in rapid succession are just not of interest to you.

Also Playwright Stephen Agly Guirgis’s play, set in New York City’s Rikers ... Read more Read less

85
Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Intense, Great writing

See it if you want a dark, profound play with funny moments; you want to see great performances in a well written play with themes of law and religion

Don't see it if You want fluffy comedy or musical, you don't like dark plays, rough language, prison settings, religious or violent themes.

Also I wish I had seen the original production and cast. Glad I caught this... Read more Read less

89
Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Intense, Relevant

See it if riveting monologues with moral arguments on belief in God, justice, forgiveness;

Don't see it if Offended by obscenity-filled dialogue even though it is appropriate to the setting and characters

Also Some parts seem right out of Law and Order & while they do add more co... Read more Read less

81
Clever, Profound, Relevant, Resonant, Great writing

See it if you enjoy a poetic writing ala Stephen Adly Guirgis

Don't see it if you prefer a fluffy play

100
Epic, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Resonant

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.

55
Ambitious, Banal, Overrated, Poorly staged, Monotonous

See it if You want to dig deep and think about issues of guilt and innocence and religious implications and the criminal justice system.

Don't see it if You want a show that feels urgent or as though it builds. This is performed at one loud note that doesn’t vary.

Also I’m curious if another production of this play might have won me over,... Read more Read less

85
Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Relevant, Great writing

See it if you like the relevant drama. Great writing and acting!

Don't see it if you prefer to turn you brain off and just have a good time.

92
Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Must see, Great writing

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

70
Thought-provoking, Resonant, Slow, Unengaging, One-note

See it if you're interested in thinking about the intersection of the criminal justice system, morality and religion.

Don't see it if you're interested in great acting and exciting drama. There are a lot of ideas to chew on here but it's not the most compelling production.

89
Edgy, 2 leads came late to their roles, but were amazing!!

See it if you want to see some great acting, can'rt imagine that the originally cast would have been anywhere near as good

Don't see it if you don't want to see guys in prison & some raw emotions

88
Absorbing, Edgy, Entertaining

See it if you want to see dynamic performances in a play with conflict and drama.

Don't see it if offensive language offends you or you suspect this might be too much like an episode of Law and Order, only without the expletives.

Also Interesting symmetry: In prison Angel pleads his case to Lucius and lo... Read more Read less

85
Must see, Strong performances, Absorbing / thought-provoking, Loud / intense / edgy, Well-written & staged

See it if you understand this is prison-themed high-drama, w/LOUD intense intimidating non-stop cursing. LOTS of monologues but the acting is strong.

Don't see it if you're a wuss. Enough humor & the intermission helps you process & digest Act I. Big crescendo in Act 2, w/seemingly inevitable resolution.

Also WORDY as hell, but very powerful script.... Read more Read less

90
Absorbing argument re guilt, right vs wrong, existence of god

See it if Interesting debate about right vs wrong & how people live w/ consequences of their actions. Excellent acting, compelling, thought-provoking.

Don't see it if you think that harsh talk between some who live or work in the prison system will offend you.

Also Highly recommended.

70
Absorbing, Edgy, Intense, Clunky, Rambling

See it if you like an engrossing prison drama, full of harshness. Lots of religious discussion, but what's Guirglis' point? Well acted, but often loud

Don't see it if you want to leave enlightened. Act I is stronger than Act 2. Very talky play, but often not insightful (1st D murder requires intent).

Also JHTAT is highly theatrical...lots of speeches and intense discussions.... Read more Read less

81
Great acting, Intelligent, Profound, Great writing, Great staging

See it if You like dramas that make you think

Don't see it if You dislike dramas that make you think