It is kind of like vacation Bible school without the tests. But a lot funnier.
“The Bible: The Complete Word of God (Abridged),” which returned Friday to Amphibian Stage Productions, is an effort to explain every chapter and verse of the Greatest Story Ever Told in a two-hour stage show.
Whether it succeeds in that endeavor could be debated, but there is no denying the laughs it garners on its holy crusade.
Adding to the challenge is that the task is undertaken by only a trio of actors: Brandon Murphy, Scott Zenreich and Aaron Fouhey. They re-enact many of the Bible’s greatest hits with a series of retellings, songs and visual aids, such as a Noah’s Ark that measures about eight inches from bow to stern (I’m not sure what that works out to in cubits).
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They cover most of the high points (Cain and Abel, Daniel in the lion’s den, the birth of Christ, etc.) and also illuminate a few details. The audience gets a handout charting Adam and Eve’s family tree, and the difference between Elijah and Elisha is made abundantly clear, for example.
If a few minor events are omitted (do we really need to hear about the prodigal son again?), they are not missed.
That is not to say that this show, written by Adam Long, Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor, is like spending a semester at divinity school. It is not that this show disrespects its subject, but rather that it is just too dumb to realize what it is doing.
The script abounds with groaner puns, goofy props, silly songs and Biblical drag humor (it turns out that there are some women in the Bible, too). This all might be considered sacrilegious if the show gave any evidence of understanding what religion is.
Fortunately, it does not.
Amphibian presented this show in 2013, with a cast that included Murphy and Zenreich. And like this production, it was directed by Jay Duffer. This edition is certainly as good, if not better, than that earlier shot. All the actors are fully into the spirit of the material, and Duffer keeps his foot on the gas throughout.
The only slight knocks on this show are that it lacks the cleverness of a similar work by the same writing team, “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged).”
Also, there is an audience participation bit in the second act that seems to last longer than Moses’ wanderings in the desert and not all patrons are going to enjoy being frequently spritzed with a squirt gun by the actors (I would recommend a seat on the back row).
But if you don’t mind being baptized with some not-so-holy water, you are likely to find some God-like laughs in this show that turns The Good Book into a joke book.
And, heaven knows, that tome has certainly been used for worse purposes.
The Bible: The Complete Word of God (Abridged)
- 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays; and 2 p.m. Sundays, through Aug. 15
- Amphibian Stage Productions, 120 S. Main St., Fort Worth
- 817-923-3012; www.amphibianstage.com