"Dark comic tale of... comics"
by Coco Hall for remotegoat on 26/11/09

In 1994, underground cartoonist Mike Diana was put into a jail in Tallahassee on obscenity charges - for publishing a comic. Mike was then put on probation for 3 years, fined $3,000, was allowed no contact with minors, had to do community service and had to see a psychiatrist and take journalism classes all at his own expense. Seems like a little bit of an over-reaction to the Robert Crumb-esque 'zine.

Taking this as inspiration playwright David Johnston has written 'Busted Jesus Comix'; a play in turns surprisingly sensitive, funny, shocking and a bit of a treat for those comic geeks amongst you. In particular the debate between Marco and his potential new manager about who's hotter - Wonder Woman or The Green Hornet. (Don't pretend you haven't thought it!)

Marco (played by Henry Blake) is a runaway teenager applying for a job at a coffee shop in New York. There he is interviewed by a sassy manager (Erin Hunter who excels in the style of a comic book heroine herself) and in a series of flashbacks inter-linked with the scenes in the present, we learn of Marco's troubled past. Some of the overlaps between scenes seem a bit forced, but generally the device comes off pretty seamlessly.

The extracts from the comic book that got Marco into trouble are acted out - in a sort of surreal 'Bill and Ted meet Robert Crumb in South Park' style, and are hilarious or pretty sick, depending on your sense of humour.

A nice turn from Peter Halpin as the camp-as-Christmas Christian mission leader, and an OTT performance by Caitlin Birley as the monstrous psychiatrist sums up all that is wrong with small town America's uptight attitude to sex and sexuality. Some darkly funny, OTT satirical scenes, and laugh out loud moments combine to make this a thought-provoking play about censorship and sexuality.

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