Skip to main content

The Gospel According to Jesus, Queen of Heaven

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
Four Stars


The table is set and the candles are waiting to be lit in this just shy of ten year revival of Jo Clifford’s beatific meditation on the child of God. So far, so seasonal, one might think. Except Clifford brings Jesus to life, not as a slightly hipster-looking bearded bloke as is the stuff of biblical cliché, but in her own image as a trans woman surrounded by an audience of disciples who have come to break bread with her.

Over the next 70 minutes of Susan Worsfold’s production, Jesus regales her guests with various yarns concerning both her personal transformation and the gauntlet of hostility and abuse she runs every single day. There are parables too, in which the Good Samaritan is recast as a late night party animal tottering home through Leith, while the prodigal son becomes a runaway daughter who returns home after her wild years. The result of this is part self-deprecating sermon, part anecdote-peppered pre-dinner speech that packs a moral punch rooted in radical theology and reinvented for a non-binary age.

Nine years on from the show’s debut, and with trans rights much more in the spotlight, the rest of the theatrical world at least seems in part to have caught up with Clifford’s presentation of a messiah who holds court with inclusive bonhomie and charm. There is still rage at a world that would hate this version of Jesus, but an over-riding sense of love outweighs the anger of a show that calls for acceptance and humanity in the face of everyday prejudice.

It finishes, as it has too, with a ritual sharing, a prayer, and a blessing for those who might condemn Clifford’s play without ever actually seeing it. If those doubting Thomasinas did dare to bear witness, they would see a show that lives and breathes a moment that looks very much like now, and all the heaven and hell on earth such uncertain times bring with them.


The Herald, December 17th 2018
Ends


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Clybourne Park

Adam Smith Theatre, Kirkcaldy Four Stars
It’s a case of whoops, there goes the neighbourhood twice over in Rapture Theatre’s revival of Bruce Norris’ Pulitzer Prize-winning play, which opens in 1959 in the same Chicago suburb where Lorraine Hansberry’s drama, A Raisin in the Sun, which appeared that year, is set. Here, Robin Kingsland’s Russ and his wife Bev, played by Jackie Morrison, are preparing to move out of their now almost empty des-res following a family tragedy.
Unknown to them, the bargain basement price tag has enabled a black family to move in, with Jack Lord’s uptight Karl a self-appointed spokesperson for the entire ‘hood. Russ and Bev’s black maid Francine (Adelaide Obeng) and her husband Albert (Vinta Morgan), meanwhile, bear witness to a barrage of everyday racism. Fast forward half a century, and a white family are trying to buy the same house, albeit with a heap of proposed changes which the black couple representing the block’s now much more diverse community aren’t…

Michael Rother - Sterntaler at 40

"There's so much to do," says an uncharacteristically flustered Michael Rother. The normally unflappably beatific German guitarist, composer and former member of Neu! and Harmonia, who also had a stint in a nascent Kraftwerk, is packing for live dates in Russia and the UK, including this weekend's show at the Queen Margaret Union in Glasgow.
"It has always been my choice to take care of these things myself and not have a manager," he says. "Somehow for me the independent aspect of doing things is really important, but it has its disadvantages."
As well as playing selections from Neu! and Harmonia, the trio he formed with Dieter Moebius and Hans Joachim Roedelius of Cluster, Rother's Glasgow date will see him play a fortieth anniversary rendering of his second solo album, Sterntaler, in full. Rother will be accompanied by guitarist Franz Bargmann and drummer Hans Lampe, the latter of whose musical involvement with Rother dates back to Neu! days, …

Kieran Hurley – Mouthpiece

Things have changed since Kieran Hurley first began writing the play that would become Mouthpiece, which opens at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh this weekend. At the time, Hurley was, in his own words, “quite new on the scene.” As a writer and performer, he had already scored hits with Beats and Chalk Farm, two pieces that put him on the map with a new generation of theatre-makers steeped in an equally new wave of grassroots opposition that drew from the iconography of revolutions past. Where Beats looked at the politicisation of 1990s club culture, Chalk Farm, co-written with AJ Taudevin, focused on a teenage boy caught up in the 2011 London riots.
More plays followed. Some, like Heads Up used the same solo story-telling aesthetic to look at an everyday apocalypse. More recently, Square Go, written with Gary McNair, dissected toxic masculinity through a school playground fight.
All the while as Hurley developed as a writer, from new kid on the block to established provocateur, this…