Theater: “Your Own Personal Exegesis” at LCT
You don’t have to be a former Episcopalian (or a recovering Roman Catholic) to enjoy Julia Jonas’s hilarious, smart new “Your Own Personal Exegesis” currently playing at Lincoln Center Theater.
What’s an exegesis (rhymes with “extra-Jesus”)? It’s defined as “the process of careful analytical study of biblical passages to produce useful interpretations of those passages.” In plain English, it means making archaic gobbledygook relevant for a younger generation.
Relevance is what Reverend Cat (Hannah Cabell), the assistant pastor of Redacted Church in Redacted, NJ, is all about. A former actress and graduate of Harvard Divinity School—an achievement she brags about constantly—she leads the church’s youth group and is on a mission to make various Christian holidays (e.g., Christmas, Lent, Good Friday) appealing for mid-1990’s teenagers.
These teens need guidance, all right. Addie and Beatrice (Mia Pak and Annie Fang) are two young women who suffer from bulimia and gobble down ExLax to purge themselves of poundage. Chris (the studly Cole Doman, from “Gossip Girl”) is the laxbro refugee from a broken home who has finally found salvation in the teachings of Jesus Christ.
Exactly how does Rev Cat intend to inspire these kids? By holding a mid-winter Dance-a-Thon where the kids do a line dance to music by the Cardigans. She also teaches a lesson on temptation whereby David tongue-kisses Bathsheba after sending her husband Uriah off to war—in this case, the scene is set in the Vietnam War era. Meanwhile, Rev Cat has her own issues—not the least of which is her own lustful attraction to one of the young students she is mentoring.
“Exegesis” is an authentic well-written memory jog for those of us who grew up infused with Christian doctrine. But it’s also a nonstop night of laughter, something that is truly nondenominational. So go. You’ll thank your lucky stars—Christian or Jewish or your-faith-goes-here.