Hanging lessons, all in a day’s work

Man or superman? Lawrence Sharkey reveals another side of Jesus.
Man or superman? Lawrence Sharkey reveals another side of Jesus.

In a radical departure from the ancient gospels that elevate Jesus to a martyred messiah, the original Lloyd Webber/Rice opera examines events in the last week of Jesus’ life as a power struggle.

Mary Magdalene and Judas Escariot fight for the attentions of a quasi megolamaniac whose growing following threatens to uproot the Roman Empire or lead to the deaths of all Jesus’ followers — including Judas — in a bloody and futile battle.

Pantheon Theatre Group tells the story from Judas’ viewpoint but promises the magic touch of producer and director Steve Mann. Mann’s Jesus Christ Superstar explores the layers of the character as Jesus the Saviour and Jesus the bloke. He told The Extra: “I wanted to offer both sides of Jesus to the audience.”

The uber-strong role of Judas must also stand on very strong shoulders but actor Garry Taylor has form. He played the same role in an earlier production. He told The Extra: “I know it well. It’s a great role and, as the saying goes, the devil gets the best songs.”

Taylor — fresh from hanging lessons — explains that his Judas isn’t a bad baddie but he can see the bigger picture.

As the movement swells, Judas sees Jesus beginning to believe his own PR. He needs Jesus to cool his jets or the writing will be on the wall for everybody.

Taylor added: “Judas gives Jesus loads of chances but the hype seems to buoy his apparent delusion. In the end, he has to turn in a man he loves and respects.”

The show runs at the King’s until Nov 22 (times vary). Tickets £10-£26 plus booking fee from.atgtickets.com.