A low-budget New Testament–themed miniature golf course, complete with a life-sized mannequin of Jesus hanging by a cross with duct tape. Sound a little crazy? That’s what the people of a small town in West Texas think of its owner, Annie, and her putt-putt venue. She, however, adamantly believes she’s doing God’s work. That’s why her grown son, Ethan, continues to help her maintain this makeshift amusement space.
Ethan wants desperately to get out of the rut he’s in. But he can’t allow himself to abandon Annie when her mental state seems uncertain, especially to those who know her best. Interactions with friends and other townspeople provide a glimpse into the potential Ethan once had and that he might have still.
He tries to talk his mother about possible alternatives he might pursue, but all discussion leads to Jesus and his heavenly plan.
This concept is at the core of Wayne Lemon’s play: religious faith and how it can actually hinder personal progress, when phony reassurance that setbacks and stagnation are part of a divine plan.
Jesus Hates Me questions faith by confronting social taboos, everything from racism to blasphemy, fraud to adultery, suicide to incest — all through a lens of dark humor. Though at times some of it seems to be just shock value, the play redeems itself with snappy dialogue and endearing characters.
Connor Sullivan and Lisel Gorrell-Getz are dynamic as Ethan and Annie, bringing the necessary energy to their characters’ interactions. Laurence Brown as Trane, Dana Fares as Lizzy, Charlie Gange as Georgie, and Richard Johnson as Boone round out the supporting cast. Each embodies the role with dignity and emotional vulnerability.
When the course of one’s life seems to lead to nothing but disappointment and heartache, how can a person keep a sense of religious faith? What else is there to have faith in? Perhaps it is the love of those around us — and devotion to those who matter to us and whom we matter to — that we must believe in. Jesus Hates Me tells the story of one man who ultimately finds where his sense of self-worth can be found.