SAINTLY: Heath Franklin brings Mark “Chopper” Read back to life in Bogan Jesus.
WHEN comedian Heath Franklinis asked if Mark“Chopper” Read would be residing in heaven or hell these days, he pauses.
Finally henervously answers,“I think he would have been pretty lucky to get to heaven. Once again, it’s not up to my judgment.”
Five years on from his death from liver cancer Read remains arguably ’s most colourful convicted criminalcome author and entertainer. A man with an iconic voice, appearance and intriguing personality that was so incrediblyportrayed by actor Eric Bana in the filmChopperin 2000.
While Bana’s theatrical career soared to new heights after his gritty performance as Read, Franklin has also developed a following in and New Zealand since donning the handle barmoustacheand ocker accent in 2007.
Franklin’s latest Chopper showBogan Jesus – The Resurrection Tourasks the question, what would Read do if he returned from the afterlife to deliver his sermonto our increasingly politically-divided world?
“This is basically Chopper sick of everyone else doing religion so badly that he’s decided to step in and offer his own version for people’s consideration,” Franklin says.
Theblasphemous title Bogan Jesus is Franklin’s take of where Christ would figure in nculture.According toThe Biblethe son of God was acarpenter inNazareth, a vocation that would these days label him a blue-collar tradesman.
“Christianity these days hasbeen co-opted and re-appropriated into capitalism, there’s all these alarming cross-overs between really rich people and the church,” Franklin says.
“I wanted to casually remind everyone that if Jesus was alive today he wouldn’t be driving an Audi and projecting horse racing advertisements on the side of the Opera House, he’dprobably be driving a ute somewhere havinga few after-work beers.”
At the heart of Bogan Jesus is Franklin’s humourous commentary on the divisive state of n political discussion. Right versus left. Inner city versus the outer suburbs. Discussions you can imagineRead whipping himself into a lather about.
“The subtext of this show is I’m a bit of leftie when it comes down to it in terms of politics, but I also can’t stand how people from the left are so critical of working-class people in ,” Franklin says.
“I think over the last few years there’s been a sizable intolerance for regular ns who may not have a degree in social studies or politics. They just get up and go to work and hang out with their family and friends on the weekend.
“This is a little bit in defence of those people, but it’s also to a certain extent speaking about my leftie ideas. In some ways I’m trying to meet people halfway and say we all can get along.”
Who would have thought -Chopper Read, the peacemaker.
Chopper’sBogan Jesus – The Resurrection Tour plays at Newcastle City Hall on November 22.