Jesus may indeed hate Ethan, the protagonist of Wayne Lemon’s self-indulgent 2005 play. But Lemon must have loved writing Jesus Hates Me because the script glories in its would-be profundities, like “Pain’s the only way I know I’m alive,” and cutesies like the Blood of the Lamb Miniature Golf Course. Ion theatre’s Glenn Paris and Claudio Raygoza co-direct this West Texas-set tragicomedy that tries very hard to shock, but is better at just plain southern discomfort. Certainly there’s nothing novel about people trapped in a small town who are aching to get out. They include Ethan (Connor Sullivan), who’s hamstrung by a troubled parent (Lisel Gorell-Getz) who would give Norman Bates’ ma a run for her money.
None of the lot is what you’d call sympathetic, though Richard Johnson’s Boone is so outrageously doltish you can’t help but like him. The specter of a mannequin Jesus literally hangs over the action and the deep-fried misery, misery that no one lets you forget for a minute.
David L. Coddon is a Southern California theater critic.