Once again, I declare my RLTC interests before sharing my views on this really interesting night in the theatre.
Abi Morgan’s new play for National Theatre of Scotland and The Royal Lyceum Theatre is a slow burning thought piece. Over five Acts it gradually unfolds its subtle pickings as it runs through the theatrical gearbox with ease.
Although Maureen Beattie takes marketing centre-stage it’s by no means all about her (although her performance purrs) and, in fact, it’s Nicholas Le Prevost who overcomes a slowish start to increasingly dominate the proceedings.
I’m not going to dwell on the plot because it would be too easy to spoil it by revealing the action.
In some ways the action is not really that important because this is a polemical, rather than plot-based, play about two opposing “kirks”: science and religion. But it’s obvious that what drives blind science and blind faith is…err…blind belief. Read Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion and you will see exactly what I mean.
The need for order, belief, integrity and singlemindedness are every bit as important in a convent as they are in a lab and this play explores deeply the integrity of belief.
It’s thoroughly thought provoking and it is delivered via a totally engaging, and yet, at times, humorous, but at all times riveting script.
The set is astounding. A brutalist concrete bunker that could at once be a university, the Catholic grotto at Carfin or a business hotel foyer where business has to be done.
And business does have to be done
The cast are great.
I loved Maureen Beattie’s unemotional and consequently hugely sympathetic performance as the convent boss elect. Her predecessor, the ageing Sister Miriam, played by Colette O’Neil was wonderful: what a part for an actor of a certain age. And the newbie, the loose cannon that is Audrey, brilliantly builds her character throughout. I enjoyed Molly Innes’ performance in Wondrous Flitting (for me the stand out performance in that show) and she delivers again as the agent provocateur of the conservative Catholic church.
This play neither belittles nor celebrates religion. It challenges scientific orthodoxy and as a result weaves a fine line between all camps leaving you, the viewer, to use your brain.
Oh, I nearly forgot. It’s about Alzheimers disease.
And it’s only on for three weeks.
You, like me, will probably want to go twice, so move it.