God's Anointed

Mon 22nd – Sat 27th August 2016

reviews

Hannah Sanderson

at 12:26 on 23rd Aug 2016

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‘God’s Anointed’ concerns two good friends who decide to cope with their recently deceased friend by epitomising good and evil to disprove the existence of God. This seems an interesting premise and watching how the idea panned out was certainly an experience.

The set resembles a student bedsit with scattered clothes and shoes. As the audience file in Grace (Caitlin Webb) is already onstage sitting on the table which dominates the set. There is no slow build up to this show, the spectators are immediately thrown in and spend of the rest of the time desperately trying to catch up. While the idea is certainly an intriguing concept and the question ‘what is evil?’ has certainly baffled scholars for centuries, I do not think this play furthers the discovery at all significantly. Rather than making any significant revelations they simply descend into a life of pointless crime.

There were some redeemable aspects of the show. For example, the way in which the actors guide the audience through the plot via the means of story-telling. They cleverly create visual images by describing relatable situations to the audience so that it is easy to picture. After about half way through the show the plot starts to go rapidly downhill and the looks of confusion on the audience’s face only increase. This play does not seem to be able to decide on its style, while the acting appears to be naturalistic the themes within the plot certainly are not. These conflicting issues only help to extend the confusion.

The acting was on the whole good. Webb’s portrays strong and compelling emotion in her longer speeches especially when talking about friend. Her relationship with Joe Coates is believable at the beginning but deteriorates along with the plot. Nat Graham (Sister) is an interesting character and I think she played her small part quite well. A clever aspect of the plot is the fact she is never given a name, this adds to the overall depravity of the affair. The subtle flirting between her and Coates is believable. This is the final redeeming feature of the script. After that the show becomes simply absurd.

There are elements in the show which, if explored, could redeem this show, but as it is it is an unsalvageable plot.

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Ed Grimble

at 13:48 on 23rd Aug 2016

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Following the suicide of their friend Eve, youths Grace (Caitlin Webb) and Laurie (Joe Coates) devise a scheme to disprove the existence of God by each vowing to live as epitomes of good and evil respectively. Touching on the nature of evil, nihilism, and religious and secular morality, there are wisps of promising ideas in the play. However, these do not materialise in any way, and instead ‘God’s Anointed’ becomes a somewhat incredulous series of moral barbarism.

Set in a cluttered, grungy looking bedsit, the play’s location is almost the totality of its verisimilitude. The script suffers from the pitfall of naturalistic theatre wherein dialogue largely consists of rapid interchanges of frustrated questions, or the tedium of one interlocutor simply exclaiming “What?”, as a response to some utterance or another. This results in a grating script. It is also the case that the acting varies hugely in consistently and efficacy. In a play so concerned with making moral choices, and criminality, the total lack of emotional empathy and invested for characters fostered in the audience means that ‘God’s Anointed’ is soon plagued by indifference. There are some moments of dubious diction, and delivery of lines is sometimes very wooden and stilted.

The show does redeem itself to a small degree in its deft handling of the physicality required in the play’s tender and violent moments. Coates and Graham’s seduction and flirtation is tender, and entirely believable. Depicting violence on stage presents directors with a choice between attempting to use clever blood packs and such like to literally try and present the physical act; or concocting a more abstract way of symbolising that wounds have been cause. (In a production of Sarah Kane’s ‘Cleansed’ at last year’s Fringe, syringes full of a sanguinary liquid were squired onto those parts of the body being mutilated, for example.) In ‘God’s Anointed’, snaps to pools of sinister red lighting accompany the murderer pouring red wine over the victim’s head. It is a visceral and effective piece of abstract staging, and its faint echoes of the Eucharist are also appreciated.

‘God’s Anointed’, then, just does not really work as a piece of drama. The premise is confused and implausible, and would require a lot more than the mediocre writing and acting provided to come close to being a success. There are, however, glimmers of hope hear where the cast and production team show some flair and imagination- they would be best put to use in a different endeavour.

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