Community theater review: Attic’s ‘Pope’ could benefit from more-developed script | Reviews

The title pretty much says it all in “The Day They Kidnapped the Pope,” except there’s no “they.” The lone abductor is a Jewish New York taxi driver named Sam Leibowitz.

The visiting pope, disoriented by a storm, enters Sam’s 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 cabbie’s unorthodox ransom demand. Namely, a 24-hour suspension of killing by everyone in the world — governments, armies, warlords and murderous civilians alike.

Although Joao Bethencourt’s two-act anti-war comedy fails to develop the idea, Sam seems to be motivated by remorse over his older son’s 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 pope’s whereabouts, they mount a farcical rescue attempt that brings the show to its climax.

Bethencourt’s play is the current offering of Attic Productions at its D. Geraldine Lawson Performing Arts Center near Fincastle. It’s 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 Sam’s wife, Sara, whom Bethencourt has gifted with the funniest lines. The Leibowitz children,…

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