Off-Broadway Review: “The Crusade of Connor Stephens”

“Look, there is a real issue in this country that nobody is talking about”, says the news broadcaster during the second act of the play and continues, “It’s time to have a real dialogue about what’s happening.” Those two sentences that you will hear are louder than anything else… Even if that’s being said for a short time in “The Crusade of Connor Stephens”, this play reveals issues of the society bigger than that, I feel happy for getting the chance to witness it on stage….

In the darkness, news reports of shooting in a school and elsewhere is heard. Quickly we learn that a man named Jim Senior (Ben Curtis) holds a mixed drink in his hand and occasionally pours more when he reaches to the bottom of his glass to mourn the death of a little girl. That girl is Chris’ daughter, Jim’s partner. The girl dies during the shooting in school and the alleged shooter was Connor Stephens, a young man whose purpose to step onto the path of crusade will be revealed during the play with shocking and chilling details.

Written and directed by Dewey Moss, The Crusade of Connor Stephens follows a haunting story based on two acts, the first one when a family faces the fact of loss and grieves about it while the second one is about facing the demons of the past and what made the tragedy to occur in the first place. And everything begins with back then when Big Jimmy, Jim’s father, a priest who was a man with great honor and was well respected in society had no respect towards gay people, and can’t accept his son’s choice of life.

Talking about choices, Big Jim challenges the audience by pointing out about sin, and to be precise he says, “Sin hurts anyone it can. It takes many forms. People. Politicians. Lust. Money. Power. And sometimes, it pulls at those we love, find their weakness and buries them in sin along with it.” As he emotionally continues building up his idea, he continues, “Roman Chapter 1 says that those who practice such things are worthy of death. No! It’s our job to root out the sin. To act as Christian solders crusading for Jesus and shoot it down with God as our weapon. To make it exist no more.” By saying no more, Big Jim does something unimaginable and horrifying when he unintentionally hands an invisible gun to Connor Stephens, who carries the duty as a good Christian to crusade for good… But the victim he chooses is the entire point of this incredible and emotionally charged story…

In conclusion, The incredible cast of The Crusade of Stephen Connor, Ben Curtis, Julie Campbell, Kathleen Huber, James Kiberd, Katherine Leask, Jacques Mitchell, Clifton Samuels and Alec Shaw are true heroes of this play, where one minute their eyes are dry, but seconds later they are in tears. A thought-provoking subject matter, a family drama that triggers an explicable tragedy, and the murder that tears the same family apart, is one of the main themes of this charming play that will make you talk about it even much later.

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