REVIEW: LOVE THE SINNER
By Karla Williams
Sunday, May 23, 2010.
Drew Pautz’s powerfully written new play examines the difficult and often agonizing dilemma of who we really are when contradicted by what we believe in, and how the deep inner conflict resulting from this situation can affect our lives and those around us.
Michael (played brilliantly by Jonathan Cullen) recently visited an unnamed country in Africa, to volunteer at a multi-denominational church meeting, organised to discuss differing opinions on the Anglican Church policies. While there, he had a one night-stand with hotel porter Joseph (Fiston Barek), who’s seeking Michael’s help to leave his country for England.
When Michael returns, he is greeted by his wife Shelly (Charlotte Randle) who is growing increasingly frustrated at Michael’s lack of enthusiasm and lacklustre attitude towards having a baby. She has also begun to notice his newly-found love of the Bible and wonders why visiting Africa has made him more religious. The same question is being asked by his work colleagues, who can’t understand his recent fascination with God and why he’s making religion a part of their working day. Will Michael every be able to atone for his sin and forget what happen in Africa or will what’s done in secret eventually comes into the light?
I empathised and understood Michael’s predicament on a number of levels, as coming from a strong belief in God and a strict Pentecostal upbringing I know it is not always easy to be what your faith requires of you. I also have firsthand experience of being encouraged to fit the mould of a good Christian; one that is often determined by traditions rather than the Bible, as well as the opinions of other Christians surrounding you. I thus enjoyed the complexities of the play and was happy that Pautz didn’t opt for a very simple plot or deliver a happy-everything-works-out-in-the-end conclusion. He has created well-rounded, multifaceted characters that I found both recognisable and realistic, and the story involving homosexuality couldn’t be more relevant.
Jonathan Cullen as Michael gives a wonderful performance that perfectly fits the role. He delivers a beautifully conflicted and emotional distraught character that is worthy of the audience’s compassion. Ian Redford also shines as Bishop Stephen and his unflappable, calm and kind-hearted personality is reminiscent of many a church vicar. Set designer Anna Fleischle, is the final jewel in an almost perfect crown, and I was truly impressed at the transition from hotel conference room to the living room, and to the office mess-room; being most amazed by the final setting of the church basement.
Love the Sinner is a well- written, well-directed and excellently acted drama that successfully depicts the often underrepresented dilemma of one’s own feelings when opposed to your faith; an outstanding play that needs to be seen.
Love the Sinner will be playing at the Cottesloe Theatre (National Theatre at London’s Southbank) until the July 10, 2010. There may be free tickets for young people, 15-25 year olds. For more information or to book tickets for the production please visit the website: http://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk
Box office: 020-7452 3000.
Play by Drew Pautz
Directed by Matthew Dunster
Cast includes: Fraser James, Jonathan Cullen, Fiston Barek and Charlotte Randle.