What exactly is the moral lesson of the Book of Job, in which a rich and pious man’s faith is tested by God through a series of horrifying trials (a sort of Old Testament Fear Factor)? Worship God equally in good times and in bad? The Lord rewards suffering? Life has no meaning, but you should pray anyway—even if you’re divinely screwed? Playwright Thomas Bradshaw (Burning) glibly touches on all of the above in his alternately earnest and cheeky adaptation, which revels in his typical transgressive shocks but also offers tidbits of theosophical noodling.
The Biblical text that inspired this 60-minute sword-and-sandals riff is not heavy on violence. The death of his children, loss of his cattle and physical afflictions (boils!) that plague Job take up only two of the book’s 42 chapters. Bradshaw, who never met a taboo he didn’t want to lovingly prolong, alters that proportion. So we get a scene in which Job’s son, Joshua (the gung ho Jaspal Binning), rapes his sister’s corpse for what feels like an eternity, and a later sequence in which the desolate Job (Sean McIntyre, admirably deadpan) is blinded and castrated by two vengeful peasants. If you weary of all this gore-soaked sadism, there are breezy, comic scenes set in heaven, where a khaki-wearing God (Ugo Chukwu) and Satan (Stephen Stout) hang out and pout like J.Crew models.
Staged with a sustained poker face by Benjamin H. Kamine and acted lustily by the resident ensemble the Bats, Job doesn’t dig very deep, but its juxtaposition of sacred and profane material is good for a few laughs and gross-out set pieces. God may move in mysterious ways, but he has nothing on this wily, perverse scribe.—David Cote
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