The title pretty much says it all in âThe Day They Kidnapped the Pope,â except thereâs no âthey.â The lone abductor is a Jewish New York taxi driver named Sam Leibowitz.
The visiting pope, disoriented by a storm, enters Samâs cab by mistake one afternoon in 1975. Instead of delivering the pontiff to his intended destination, Sam drives him home to Brooklyn to meet the wife and kids, dine on soup and kosher wine and await payment of the cabbieâs unorthodox ransom demand. Namely, a 24-hour suspension of killing by everyone in the world â governments, armies, warlords and murderous civilians alike.
Although Joao Bethencourtâs two-act anti-war comedy fails to develop the idea, Sam seems to be motivated by remorse over his older sonâs death in the Vietnam War.
The mild-mannered pope rather enjoys his captivity, treating it as an unexpected but welcome break from papal duties. Not so the local church, law enforcement and military authorities. Tipped to the popeâs whereabouts, they mount a farcical rescue attempt that brings the show to its climax.
Bethencourtâs play is the current offering of Attic Productions at its D. Geraldine Lawson Performing Arts Center near Fincastle. Itâs a generally lackluster effort, unfortunately, characterized by uneven performances and extended humor droughts.
To be fair, the actors are not helped by the playwright. His idea for a play turned out to be better than the script that followed.
Bill Joppich leads the Attic cast as Sam, playing him with a noisy boisterousness that smothers any sign of grief over the loss of his son. Joppich does pull off a fair approximation of Brooklynese, however.
Kim Asbury is thankfully more restrained as Samâs wife, Sara, whom Bethencourt has gifted with the funniest lines. The Leibowitz children,…