Saturday, December 30, 2006

On Religion

Just got back from watching On Religion at the Soho Theatre a collaboration between the playwright Mick Gordon and the philosopher A C Grayling.

I went expecting a theatrical essay on the current vogue for debating the God Question (or Delusion), but what I saw was actually a quite touching play about love and family as well as faith. The intellectual arguments are there. Anybody who has read Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion will recognise many of the arguments (and even one anecdote) that Grace, the evolutionary biologist and atheist/naturalist Mother, puts forward in her fights with her son Tom, a lawyer who has decided to train to be a priest. This ongoing fight between mother and son, naturalist and supernaturalist, forms the dramatic centre around which the rest of the play revolves as the family is torn apart by both by Tom's death and Grace's reaction to it.

Although full of polemics it never feels polemical. Although one suspects that the playwrights' sympathy's lie with Grace (in fact in the case of Grayling his book What is Good? makes his position quite clear) it is in fact Tom who is the more sympathetically drawn character, espousing a progressive theology that appealed at times even to this committed heathen.

Its not a great play or production, but a very good one. The acting is competent rather than sparkling (save Gemma Jones as Grace who is never anything less than riveting), and the sparse staging and direction is professional but not particularly memorable. However at £7.50 for the matinee and only £15 full price I doubt there is a better value straight play on the London stage at the moment, and few better at any price.

1 Comments:

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