Robert Meakin’s cheerfully blasphemous play concerns the disintegration of heaven. God in his white robe sits upon his white throne, tended by a white-robed and not so saintly Peter, and surrounded by white boxes – seats for the lesser immortals. An angel (Ariadne Blakey performing as burlesque queen Tempest Rose) sings us into the show with ‘Welcome to Heaven’, a song composed by Adrian Colborne, who provides further musical interludes from time to time. The angel acts as chorus to the enterprise and each time she makes an appearance a little more of her feathery costume is made to disappear.
God is fed up with his son who, since he learned how to turn water into wine, can’t leave the stuff alone – amusingly, one of his constant companions is a mineral water bottle of red wine. His other companion is his dearest friend Satan, who has undergone psychoanalysis, lost his demons and appears to have become a really decent chap.
In an effort to keep up to date the old man gives an interview to Sky TV’s Lucy Lampeter – a typical TV chat show host played by Tova Levy - which ends in disaster because he can’t think of anything to say. Jesus, thinking his dad too old to cut the mustard, persuades the newly reformed Satan to join him in a usurping enterprise. But Jesus had reckoned without his mother, the blessed Mary who has become, well, something else entirely.
Playwright Robert Meakin, who portrays the dissolute Jesus himself, has come up with some very funny lines and jokes concerning the inhabitants of heaven, including like Princess Diana (who proves very popular) and Abraham Lincoln. About halfway through there are some longueurs but the action soon picks up again and carries on to the literally thunderous finale.
Though the setting is Heaven and the people involved are immortals, this is an allegorical romp more about politics than religion and many of the incidents and the characters are familiar. Ian Dootson plays Peter, the perfect diplomat; Ryan Hurst is a sophisticated and devious Satan; Andrew Neil is perfect casting as the bemused and bewildered Scottish God; and Helen Bang is an unusually sexy but practical Mary.
The piece is excellently directed by God himself – Andrew Neil – and although this pantomime may upset those with religious sensibilities, for irreverent souls like us it’s great fun.
- Aline Waites