Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Bible in an Hour

Shakespeare’s been abridged and had all his 37 plays telescoped into one breakneck production, so why not pull out the big guns and do the Bible? I mean, it’s a best-seller and has a huge audience with a limited attention span.

Not counting the Apocrypha, there are 39 books in the Old Testament and 27 in the New, giving a total of 66 (spooky). This means in an hour-long show you’ve got roughly 1 minute to perform each book (any leftover time could be lavished on Revelation for a nice big bang of a close).
Forget Ben Hur and The Greatest Story Ever Told. Keep it simple and make it a one-man show, with snappy costume changes to denote some of the major players, like Pharaoh, Pilate and a couple of the Maries. Use slides, props and models, like a light-up globe of the world for Genesis, a desert diorama for Exodus, a bathtub with shower for Noah and a K-Mart nativity scene for J.C’s birth. For the Revelation finale you’ll want a smoke machine and slide of Sarah Palin as the Whore of Babylon. (Judas, of course, is Bob Dylan).

Get Nokia on board as a sponsor and then Paul can preach all his epistles to the apostles via a simple group text: “Hey guys, I’m gay! p.s. love one another, coz Jesus is way cool! XX”. The crucifixion would have to be tasteful so as not to offend delicate sensibilities. Maybe McDonalds could also be a sponsor and instead of a cross the actor could hammer himself to a pair of glowing Golden Arches (of course, as ever, the last nail would be problematic).

Inevitably, the integrity of the Bible might be somewhat compromised. For instance, I think there is something like 42 generations from Moses to Jesus and their lineage is all meticulously listed. So all that essential “Zebulun-begat-Gad, Naphtali-begat-Simeon” stuff would obviously have to be trimmed into, say, a 10 second Begat-the-Begat scat.

But on the bright side the Bible’s chockers with comedy gold. Somewhere in there there’s the story of a she-bear that attacks and kills several dozen people, which makes you wonder what the hell all those dozens of other people were doing while the she-bear was busy chewing on their buddy’s skull – not running like hell, but patiently queuing up till the she-bear can get around to them for dessert? (And have she-bears ever been native to the Middle East?)

It’s not all smooth sailing. One bummer is that in order to write the show you have to read the whole Bible and then carry out the severest edit on it since John the Baptist parted ways with his head. But with a little elbow grease you’re onto a winner. Publicity shouldn’t be a problem as Christians who aren’t watching the show will be picketing it, and I’m sure some deliciously illiterate death-threats will be forthcoming, particularly when your tour swings through Alabama.

Once The Bible in an Hour is a bona fide hit you can expand the franchise by adapting other seminal religious works for the stage. Though the Koran may be problematic.


  1. Superb insight to a rarely looked at piece of literature.

  2. why thanks Jemmer. wait till I get round to deconstructing Dr Seuss.