Take it as
REVIEW: Friday, Jan.19, 2001
"The Gospel of John" www.theatreinthesquare.com.
The verdict: One heck of a Bible story.
By Kathy Janich
"The Gospel of John" is an amazing achievement.
That needs to be said again. "The Gospel of John" is an amazing
Atlanta actor Brad Sherrill, who created this original piece and
performs it at Theatre in the Square's Alley Space, has taken
the words of the New Testament's fourth book and, with his voice,
his imagination and a few props, shaped it into a transforming
two hours of theater.
Leaping angrily and overturning furniture, he becomes an enraged
Jesus Christ chasing buyers and sellers from his Father's House.
Sleepy, reluctant and fearful, he becomes Pontius Pilate, the
official who would send Jesus to his death.
Cowering and sheepish, he's the disciple Simon Peter denying his
alliance with Jesus at the hour his devotion is most critical.
Sherrill, dressed in a muted pumpkin henley and pleated khaki
slacks, inhabits them all, and many more. And he's wonderful to
His piece is as inventive as it is athletic. Watch him splash
water on the stage floor to simulate rough seas. Or turn a rough-hewn
rectangular table on its edge to create Lazarus' tomb. Follow
him as he cuts through the space and moves about the audience,
touching hands here and shoulders there, spreading Jesus' message
of love and inclusion.
In short, Sherrill entertains and cajoles, moves us and mesmerizes
us. "John" is undoubtedly among the best work he's ever done.
You can tell that it enthralls him as an actor. Just as clear
is that it fascinates him as a man. How it hits you will probably
depend on the religious baggage --- or beliefs --- you bring to
the theater. Nonbelievers should be able to appreciate it for
its craft and energy, but be aware that it might not be to everyone's
Sherrill, 38, has been a professional actor in the metro area
since 1983, performing a range of roles. He's done cowboys and
barnyard animals, the lovers and liars of Shakespeare, and some
of the meatier characters in such contemporary plays as "The Heidi
This role, with its 20,000 words and myriad personae, allows him
--- no, commands him --- to tap into every resource he has.
The only miscue is the extended musical opening. The vaguely spiritual/New
Age-y soundscape seems a waste of time when we're waiting for
Sherrill to burst on the scene.
Still, the overriding question here is whether the word of God
can work as drama. Sherrill proves that it most certainly and
successfully can. You need only watch him as John the Baptist,
testifying to his first sighting of Jesus Christ, to become a
believer. And this moment comes less than 10 minutes into the
Simple, powerful, provocative. If they'd taught the gospel like
this in Catholic school, I might have paid attention. And that
is a high compliment, indeed.