12 AUGUST 1972, Page 10

Superstar in camera

Henry Adler

Funny things happened on the way to Golgotha. I can rebut the sneers •of those (ungraced by the enthusiasm of the archbishops and Harold Hobson) who do not seem to recognise the value of glamorising Jesus for popularity in an enlightened democracy. Awaiting his call (this time from press photographers) he seemed a thoroughly human young man, combing his tresses with exemplary Christian patience.

Under the light from above, the carpenter, Newington Butts rather than Nazareth, was tidying up the crucifix. A supernumerary West Indian draped his combat boots over the back of the stalls and loudly voiced the hope that they'd get the Crucifixion over because he wanted to go buy a suit, man. A bevy of apostle ladies were unanimously chewing their gum. A disciple said to his boyfriend, "Been waiting for hours, dear," and consoled himself by warbling in a manly contralto. Two Important People, presumably (theatrical) Angels who owned a glittering chunk of the messianic cerstar and therefore twinkled supreme at the godhead of this spiritual astronomy, brushed past Jesus who was congregating with the multitude in the stalls, and went backstage. Only then did we get the promise of some action.

"Everybody on for the Last Supper," exhorted the pale stage-manager in a tone so urgent that I expected him to add, "Come and get it!"

The apostles gathered around Jesus. The ladies ensconced themselves on the temple balcony and directed a mystical gaze toward Heaven which was plausibly located in the direction of Shaftesbury Avenue. Even then we had to wait. After a while, an apostle abandoned Jesus and, craning up to a temple lady, said, "Give us a kiss, honey," which she resoundingly did before again uplifting her eyes.

Finally the band struck up. Since this was only a run-through to photo-cues, Jesus did not worry that the microphones were not empowered to carry his voice to the unenlightened and we got through the gospels pretty fast. Judas in rimless spectacles compulsively clutched the inarticulate microphone and Jaggerishly turkey-cocked round the stage demanilh)I with maniacal reiteration to know who Jesus thought he was.

"For Chrissake get on with it," said the West Indian, "I'll never get my gear." "Only the Crucifixion now, dearie," said the pretty disciple consolingly. And he, and I, decided to stay on to the bitter end. To be fair, it didn't take too long. Through• a trapdoor sprang the Cross. Jesus nimbly mounted it and, arms spreadeagled, head demurely drooping on his right shoulder, anxiously enquired from the corner of his mouth, "Have I got it authentic?"

"That's quite a good position," said a photographer judiciously.

"No, no," said the perfectionist Jesus, "I want it authentic," and he posed again, bending his knee in a petrified curtsey.

The cameras clicked. The girls lifted their skirts and swung into their apotheosis of the Superstar. But suddenly he shouted, " Jeeze! I got a plaster on my knee."

"It don't matter," said the same photographer, "It won't show."

"For Chrissake, course it matters," ex postulated .Jsus. "I don't want any marks to show."

Such reverence is bound to pay off. We were all out by teatime, feeling sure the full (electrical) power would be okay on His last, or, rather, first, night.