The description of this play as ‘a series of crude, clownish retellings of different tales from scripture’ could not be more apt. That is what Comic Mysteries is. It is a jumble of Biblical stories hacked together.
The main problem with the play was that it seemed like it was trying to make a religious or political point, but it just didn’t. The corruption of the pope was an obvious theme in one of the sketches, and yet was never referred to again. The humanity of a soldier, who was then beaten and murdered for it, faded with his last breath. As I left the BT, I felt like I was supposed to have got something from Comic Mysteries that simply wasn’t there – were they criticizing Christianity? Were they criticising the Church? Were they just making fun of Jesus? I’m not really sure.
But then again, maybe the performance shouldn’t be taken so seriously. The script was fairly amusing, and it was interesting to see the stories of the Bible told in such a different way – a particular highlight was Michael Comba retelling the story of Jesus turning water into wine from the perspective of a sceptical drunkard.
The staging was very experimental and kept the audience involved in the piece. We stood in a group in the middle of the stage, being ushered about by the actors when they needed us to move. Though it did reach the point where one just wanted to sit down and watch the actors rather than constantly worrying about being in their way, this wasn’t a big problem, and it made the play more engaging and exciting. In that way we were lucky that there were a mere seven audience members as it meant we got more personal attention from the actors who spoke to us.
There were stand out performances from Laura Whitehouse and Alex Tyndall, who made us both laugh at and sympathise with the characters on stage. Tyndall’s depiction of Pope Boniface was hilarious and Whitehouse is clearly a very talented actress. Switching roles from a grieving mother who is losing her mind, to a cripple hoping not to be saved by Jesus, to a female depiction of Jesus being nailed to the crucifix, meant her abilities were certainly tested, but she gave an effortless performance.
We were led into the BT studio expecting to be disappointed. I was not disappointed; Comic Mysteries was funny, and the actors were good, but it was overall unclear what they were trying to achieve with the performance. It was not, as the OxStu predicted it would be, ‘divine’.