Friday, September 09, 2016

"The Inn at Lydda" opens

NEW TESTAMENT APOCRYPHA WATCH. The Inn At Lydda has opened at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, London, to unenthusiastic reviews:

The Telegraph: The Inn at Lydda's biblical drama collapses into Carry On comedy – review (Chris Bennion).
Now, how are you on your New Testament apocrypha? Ah, good. You’ll be aware then of the fleeting reference in one such pseudo-gospel to Tiberius Caesar seeking out the healing powers of Jesus of Nazareth. Sadly for the ailing Roman emperor, Pontius Pilate’s hands were squeaky clean by this point and the two men never met.

John Wolfson, playwright and, perhaps more importantly, the Curator of Rare Books at the Globe, has imagined that the meeting took place. It is a crackerjack set-up: Jesus, fresh from the cross, must decide whether to save the life of the Emperor under whose vicious tyranny he has just been executed. Would he “heal Caesar”?

While there is much invention, humour and good intention in Andy Jordan’s production, what we are served up is a haphazard mishmash of droll Bible history, quasi-Shakespearean high drama and Carry on Cleo.

Plus the reviewer didn't like the hand puppet.

The Guardian: The Inn at Lydda review – Christ is risen for a showdown with Caesar (Michael Billington).
The play is deeply flawed but, at a time when drama is monotonously secular, it at least has the courage to remind us there is a world elsewhere.
The Financial Times: The Inn at Lydda, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, London — review. An audacious, fitfully successful staging of a New Testament story (Sarah Hemming).
But, for all this, the play’s idiosyncratic approach doesn’t really gel and ultimately, frustratingly, undermines the potential scope of the subject.
The Arts Desk: The Inn At Lydda, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. A clever concept loses its way in this uneven new play (Alexandra Coghlan).
Wolfson wants to use his material to discuss a number of big questions. The nature of history and history-writing, the Bible as literature, the corrupting influence of power and the philosophy of governance all come in for comment, and in the encounter between Caesar and Jesus we do start heading towards some interesting conclusions. But no sooner has the play chosen a compelling path than it abandons it, leaving us lost and languishing at a second-rate inn somewhere in the Judean desert.
Background here. Cross-file under Theatre.