Written by 11:47 pm Costa Mesa, Review, South Coast Repertory, Theater, Uncategorized

Galilee, 34 @ South Coast Repertory – Review

(Photo Credit: Robert Huskey/SCR)

Written by Patrick Chavis

The world premiere of Galilee, 34, is playing now at South Coast Repertory from April 21 – May 12, 2024.  

Theatre is one of the great mediums for thinking about our world and questioning our deeply-held beliefs. That’s why religion and philosophy, for the most part, are intrinsically connected to theatre. So much so that some famous philosophers and theologians have written plays in their lifetime. You could also argue that whether a playwright calls themselves a philosopher or not, their works contain the argumentation and insight to be considered a thought-provoking exercise or practice.   


In the comedic what-if play Galilee, 34, it’s not clear whether Jesus Christ was the Son of God, even to those who loved him. He was an extraordinary man trying to do good work, and in the process, he was crucified for it. What if the writers of the Bible, like Paul, were affected by bias and the circumstances of the time, and this influenced what was put down in the Bible? This and more are explored in Galilee, 34

Galilee, 34, doesn’t explore anything new or controversial about the long and arduous creation of the Bible, which has not been discussed about the best-selling book of all time for decades. Still, Eleanor Burgess’s comedic setup and this incredible cast of actors succeed in bringing some of these larger-than-life people down to earth. While Galilee, 34 is not a musical, the humor from this show reminded me of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Both blend modern humor into a historical period.

The characters are well-written, and by the end of the play, I knew each of them better. Miriam of Nazareth (Amy Brenneman), Jesus’s mother, is a hardworking homemaker and a fierce defender of her sons and the poor. Yacov of Nazareth (Eric Berryman), Miriam’s son and Jesus’s brother, is quiet, kind and reflective. I could do this for each character in the play, and it would be easy to recall their personalities. It is undoubtedly well-written, and there are plenty of laughs to be had. However, after such a funny and intriguing first act, the payoff in the second act seems to flounder. It is possibly too long. 


The show is on the smaller Julianne Argyros stage. Sandra Goldmark’s design features a desert patio with mountains and a plywood-looking fence. Right of the stage is an obscured wooden shed or house. The plywood-looking fence is on rollers for portability. The color palette is mainly brown and tan to fit the set’s desert theme. Many of the colors in this come from the costumes and lighting design. 

Josh Epstein’s lighting in this production is picturesque. In many instances, the set looks like a tapestry. At other times, it is more alive and vibrant — tasteful and colorful lighting from Epstein. 


One of my favorite aspects of this show was the costume design by Dina El-Aziz. El-Aziz’s costumes incorporate modern and older-looking historical fabrics. The clothing, like the story, is a mixture of new and old. Almost a perfect fit. 


What an ensemble — a spotless cast. But some performances did stand out. Teresa Avia Lim (Miri of Magdala) is hilarious and brings the character to life. The passion and devotion in her eyes during certain scenes are intense. 

Jeremy Rabb, who plays two characters in this show, Mattityahu and Ezra, is convincing in both roles.

I can’t say enough about Christopher Cruz’s performance. I didn’t even recognize he played two characters. It was a genuinely transformative performance, and he featured in some of my favorite moments of the night.

This comical romp is well worth a visit.

8.2 Overall
0.9 Users (1 vote)
Set & Design8
What people say... 1 Leave your rating
Not a Christian Play
Don't waste your money. Audio was difficult to hear and I was in the 4th row. My friend fell asleep. This is not a Christian fact play. Lots of insuations about Jesus having an affair with Mary Magdelon and the cast family members didn't really understand that Jesus was a savior. Lots of arguing. It was exhausting and not funny.
May 14, 2024, 4:55 am
Set & Design0.5
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Good Show! OCR Recommended! April 21 – May 12, 2024. 

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