At a time when the merest mention of Christmas can draw accusations of "excluding the other", it is heartening to see the Basement celebrating Advent with an entertaining, if somewhat irreverent, musical about the life of Christ.

Director Oliver Driver follows up his thoughtful reinterpretation of Jesus Christ Superstar with a concept that belongs to an established tradition of imagining Christ returning in person to expose the sinfulness of contemporary culture.

While the focus is firmly placed on delivering laughs, there are some clever audience interaction devices that encourage reflection on the message of "peace on earth and goodwill toward men".

A roster of celebrities has been lined up to play the Son of God and each night a different actor appears without any rehearsals or prior knowledge of the script. This is a big ask and results are likely to vary as the season progresses.


On the night I attended, Lucy Lawless struggled to take advantage of the improv opportunities that were hurled at her but established a winning presence as she displayed a fine singing voice and a facility with accents.

The four-person core cast delivers powerful musical numbers with lyrics by Thomas Sainsbury that are witty and at times provocative. There are sharp observations on what the Son of God might offer a world where struggle is defined by cellphone issues, gluten intolerance and frustration about internet speed.

Audiences should be warned there is some seriously X-rated material as Mary Magdalene fantasises about her relationship with Jesus, but the emotional crux of the show comes with Gareth Williams' surprising take on Judas debating with the apostles about betraying Jesus.

Cabaret-style seating engenders a well lubricated vibe that is suitably attuned to the seasonal celebrations.

What: Jesus Christ Part II - The Basement's Christmas Show
Where: Basement Theatre, to December 19.