Jesus in India, Tale of Icon's Teen Years, Opens in San Francisco Feb. 1

By Kenneth Jones
February 1, 2012

Lloyd Suh's Jesus in India, billed as "a contemporary reimagining of a wild stretch in the lost years of Jesus Christ" in his teen years, opens Feb. 1 in a world premiere at Magic Theatre in San Francisco. Previews began Jan. 25.



New York-based director Daniella Topol (who helmed Off-Broadway's How the World Began for The Women's Project) directs the play by the author of American Hwangap, which Magic premiered. Jesus in India has been developed by Magic in recent years.

Magic describes the new play this way: "Teenaged and wayward, Jesus of Nazareth runs away from home and journeys to the East with his friend, Abigail of Galilee, towards a spiritual haven full of Maharajas, punk rock, and some really good weed."

Performances play to Feb. 19. The cast includes Damon Daunno (Jesus), who appeared in the Broadway production of Kneehigh Theatre's Brief Encounter; Mahira Kakkar (Mahari/Mary), who played Emily Webb in Our Town at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival; Bobak Bakhtiari (Gopal), who has been seen in Bay Area productions by Word for Word, Golden Thread and Aurora Theatre; Jessica Lynn Carroll (Abigail), who was most recently in Bellwether at Marin Theatre Company; and Jomar Tagatac (Sushil), of The Nature Line at Sleepwalkers Theatre.

In production notes, Suh refers to his latest play as a "rebooting or prequel" to the biblical story. He commented, "This play is for everyone. It's about humanity, coming of age, finding your way. It's the lost chapter, before Jesus became Jesus. You don't have to know the biblical story of Jesus or even be religious to appreciate the play. I think in the end it's about transformation and humanity and nothing is more universal than that."

The production team includes dramaturg Shirley Fishman.

Director Topol told Playbill.com, "Taking on Jesus feels daunting, thrilling, intimidating, naughty and very interesting. In this version, Jesus is 18 [and] running away from home after finding out he's not really Joseph's son — he is much much more than that. [He is] defying his destiny, joining a punk rock band, smoking weed, falling in love and generally enjoying being free before he realizes that he cannot be. This pull toward freedom is one we all seem to struggle for/toward."

She added, "I'm attracted to the play because it spans the irreverent to the spiritual with a great sense of whimsy and humor. By the end, he is able to see/feel his mother's spirit calling him home; he is able to take aspects of what he has learned about Buddhism and carry them with him back to Galilee to influence Judaism becoming Christianity."

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit magictheatre.org.