In the womb-like upstairs room of the Ovalhouse, Chris Goode attempts to come to terms with an encounter with God. Or does he?
Goode poses the question 'what if there really is a God?', and explores the idea by retelling two possible 'brief encounters'; the piece, which is presented as raconteurism, blends these accounts with other repeated (and somewhat self-indulgent) musings.
Goode is a noted writer/performer who uses his personal experiences as a route in to explore big ideas. But to what extent can and should theatre be a form of therapy for a performer? The title of this piece gives us a clue. The backslash that links the two words serves to separate and join them - is this a God encounter that his head cannot cope with?
The answer would appear to be yes, for the two encounters disturb him enough that he visits a neuro-scientist, who explains that certain thoughts and ideas are caused by neurochemical reactions. He wants to have proof that these were God experiences but somehow can’t accept it – unlike George Harrison, who expressed a similar sentiment in the song “My Sweet Lord” which is left playing at the end of the show.
The talk is broken by musical interludes that act like a chill-out space at a rave; but they stop the flow of the narrative thus disengaging both performer and audience. There is also a different guest each night who is invited to share their personal experiences and read the lines of characters encountered. But, as Goode has his own agenda and timeframe, the guest on the night I saw it was often cut off midway and didn’t appear to be listened to with any real engagement.
The material grows repetitive and is delivered at times in a low monotone, where we are talked at rather than to, which can feel rather (deliberately?) alienating. But that said, this is a bold and original undertaking leaving plenty of food for thought.