Job: The Hip-Hop Saga written and performed by Jerome Saibil and Eli Batalion. Presented by Foqué Dans La Tête Productions in association with the Tarragon at the Tarragon Extra Space (30 Bridgman). Runs to December 14, Tuesday-Saturday 8 pm, matinee Sunday 2:30 pm. $24, stu/srs $18. 416-531-1827. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
Face it. the king james version of the Bible is the best-selling book in history, but not the illest. You'll never hear about how the story of Job is off the hook - unless you talk to someone who's seen the acclaimed hiphop retelling of Job, which first reared its pious head at the 2002 Fringe. As Eli Batalion and Jerome Saibil , the writing, directing and performing duo who also composed the classical sampled beats for Job: The Hip-Hop Saga , say, the story is "renewed and construed and imbued with modern elements you've never yet viewed." Playing MCs Abel and Cain, they rap the story of Job Lowe (get it?), the rags-to-riches-to-rags-to-riches tale of a janitor who becomes general manager of a rap record label only to lose it all at the hands of the company's CEO.
The genre-mashing is hysterical enough, but Batalion and Saibil, eerily talented both as actors and rappers, back it up with such lyrical cleverness that you have to repress laughter in order to catch every line. In an early scene in Act I when Job is calming his professor wife, who worries she won't get tenure, she exalts, "Oh Jobey! You're like Adobe Photoshobey, making things look better!" This, not long after the duo sing a revision of the Roots' You Got Me.
Right with the times, Beyoncé, Eve and Eminem also get the Job treatment.
Act II focuses on another allegory about narrating MCs Cain and Abel and their Biggie-vs-Pac-like rivalry. More experimental and existential, the second act is an equally pitch-perfect feat, but after the toll the high-energy first half takes on the audience, it's harder to commit to.
But whatevah, yo. It's a small complaint for a big show that took so much skillz to create. Thou must believeth the hype. Thou wilt be feelin' it, thou heard?