A superb play about the break with the Catholic church and the nature of the Protestant spirit that changed Europe, wresting the control of religion over daily life, and realising itself in the newly formed Anglican faith that led to the King James Bible, one of the finest works of literature in the English language. And one doesn't have to be one of the faithful to understand its importance (I'm an atheist), and it is true that one needs to come to this play with a knowledge of English history and the ramifications of religion during the turmoils of the Tudor and Elizabethan period. An understanding and appreciation of the sheer power of language will come to the fore as well, as this play explores what could be seen as the tedium of the translation, and illustrates how the translation into English both reflected the concerns of the time - church for congregation; evil spirits for temporal tyrants - and ultimately freed the United Kingdom from the constraint and tyranny of the Vatican. With the life of Tyndale, it is made clear why lives have been given for the freedom of expression and freedom of belief, and there is also the subtext of why this is all important in today's political climate. The production is superb, the language beautiful and literary, the acting first rate. I was engrossed, and so were the audience, and it may not be a play for everyone, but anyone with a love of the English language, the lessons of history, and the ever changing attitudes towards organised religion, will find this production engrossing. - Gary Hampton
01 May 12
What is this crap? Didn't this sort of theatre die 30 years ago? If this is the direction Artistic Director elect Doran wants to take the RSC, God help us all! - Cassox
29 Apr 12
"but they would be people uninterested in language, the art of translation"
Not so. That's just your prejudice coming through the review. I love words, linguistics and the etemoloyg of language. But I found this play incredibly dull and "worthy" (in its worst sense"). 2 1/2 hours is an incredibly long time to sit and watch people pontificate (even though its beautifully directed pontification). What promised to be a refreshing, thought provoking change from airheaded musicals turned into a leaden diatribe on a subject which will leave the vast majority of people unmoved. There is only one point in the play in which something actually happens - someone climbs a ladder and smashes a window. The audience briefly wake up, and then return to their word-surfeited slumber. The rest of it is weary speechifying about a book of fairy stories. - Russells Theatre Reviews
27 Apr 12
A play based on the history and conflicts surrounding the translation of the Bible into English! Roll up, roll up! Not many takers? But this is a remarkable play, sharply staged, beautifully acted and crafted with a respect for language that the subject demands. Certainly it is dense, it demands serious concentration but few plays could better answer the question, ‘What does it mean to be English?’ It’s as central to an understanding of our society as DV8’s recent production, ‘Can we talk about this?’ which, focussing on Islam, also dealt with religion, freedom, intolerance and the appeal to a God. This is a play that serious Muslims, Jews, Christians and atheists should see. The central performances, from Oliver Ford Davies and Stephen Boxer, are precise, authoritative and moving. The direction by Greg Doran is pitch-perfect and, poor guy, nobody will notice it – which is as it should be. - Clive Sollish
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