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The Shop, 607 New York Avenue NW
Sunday, July 25th, 4:30pm
They Say: “Manfred is a penis with his own brain and personality. He’s a gay-bashing, teabagging fundamentalist worried about going to Hell, as he’s inconveniently attached to an agnostic liberal. Religious parody, science fiction and social commentary meet in My Christian Penis.”
Matt’s Take: A cardinal sin of many fringe shows is building a full-length performance around what could have been an amusing high-concept SNL digital short. So it goes with My Christian Penis, an initially mildly amusing conceit thatquickly wears itself thin.The set up: Sam (Matthew Ward) is an everyman with problem. His penis has a mind of its own. Literally! Sam’s member, who goes by the name of Manfred (gratingly voiced by David Berkenbilt), a right-wing Christian conservative who does not approve of Sam’s liberal lifestyle. Beholden to his sassy, anti-Semitic johnson, Sam must go to exhaustive lengths to keep his fickle penis happy lest he uncontrollably urinate on his dates. Can I get an Amen?
From here, My Christian Penis switches gears into a mostly humorless jeremiad against Christian hypocrisy with pockets of inspired moments by Stephen Brady and Nick Hanson as a pair of daft televangelists. But what began as an entertaining if one-note joke goes off the rails with a bizarre time travel plot resulting in needless exposition and didactic lecturing.
This gear shift is an ill-fit for My Christian Penis considering its broad strokes against Christian intolerance and holy writ are simplistic at best and offensive at worst. That Manfred’s revulsion towards Jews and liberals stems from its own self-loathing homosexuality is a lazy way to write off the far more complex (and interesting) discrepancies espoused by the words and actions of The Christian Coalition. More importantly, My Christian Penis’ muddled direction and tonal change feels like a tacit admission of its flimsy material while squandering the positive momentum of its first 15 minutes.
See It If: You still resent the Nuns who demanded making room for the Holy Spirit when slow dancing.
Skip It If: You do not own/never have owned an ironic Jesus-related product from Urban Outfitters.