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New York Theater

The Jesus Factor

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The Jesus Factor

Depending on one's taste, Brian Dykstra is either a) a fearless truth-teller whose satirical jibes ruthlessly uncover the intellectual vacuity and moral bankruptcy of the right-wing political agenda, or b) a loudmouthed slob. As your basic secular lefty and blasphemous scoffer, I should be the natural audience for Dykstra's rantings on the follies of the religious right, yet I consistently found myself leaning toward the latter option while wondering why I was being yelled at for 90 minutes by someone who agrees with me.

It's not that Dykstra doesn't score some effective hits. Despite the title, the writer-performer is less concerned with religion per se than with those who exploit their faith for political reasons or whose laughable literal-mindedness results in such embarrassing phenomena as creationist museums displaying dioramas of humans frolicking with dinosaurs. A yards-long roll of adding-machine paper containing an exhaustive list of the Bush administration's crimes makes for an effective prop, and Dykstra occasionally segues into some motor-mouthed political verse that shows a flair for internal rhyme.

It's just that he does it all with a blunderbuss when a rapier might be more effective. He takes on religious hypocrisy, military doublespeak, and Keanu Reeves with equal vehemence — and though all are eminently worthy targets, the shrill and overbearing tone drowns out whatever wit may be lurking in the text. He also misidentifies Bush as the first born-again president; it was Jimmy Carter who introduced that term to mainstream America.

Dykstra may have energy and a deep reservoir of righteous wrath on his side, but the bottom line is that Bill Maher and Jon Stewart have done this kind of thing with more finesse. And as he's performing in public for a paying audience, would it kill him to shave or tuck in his crummy T-shirt?

Presented by Fresh Ice Productions and Jack W. Batman

at the Barrow Street Theatre, 27 Barrow St., NYC.

Feb. 7-Mar. 15. Thu., 7:30 p.m.; Sat., 5 p.m.

(212) 239-6200 or (800) 432-7250 or www.telecharge.com.

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