BWW Reviews: LOT AND HIS GOD, The Print Room, November 9 2012
In heels, hat and with hauteur intact despite sitting in a grimy cafe in sordid Sodom, Lot's wife fascinates Mr Drogheda, an angel who is in town to do God's will. That town, of course, won't last much longer - its filth in body and soul having revolted God - but the angel is keen to dispatch Lot and his wife to safety, though they are rather less keen to go. As Lot's wife draws the distinctly unangelic Mr Drogheda ever more close with an all too Sodom-style seduction, Lot's pleading for an end to the casual cruelty Drogheda visits on a slovenly waiter merely provokes more outrages. Lot's wife looks on, detached, bemused, enjoying her power over both man and angel. Soon Lot's bookish reason is destroyed by his wife's practised sensuality and the angel's raging power - and the city burns.
Doesn't sound like it's as much fun as a barrel of monkeys, does it? And there are times when it's hard to watch such wanton cruelty, but there are plenty of laughs in the biting satire and verbal jousting, as veteran playwright Howard Barker shows that he has lost none of his power to create dystopic worlds and populate them with men and women in conflict. In the close confines of The Print Room, we almost feel like we're in the cafe too - awaiting our payback for our city's lack of godliness - a feeling enhanced by Peter Mumford's beautiful and disconcerting lighting.
Hermione Gulliford is perfectly cast as the amoral, clever seductress, old enough to know so much and old enough not to care for the consequences. As the two men she keeps beneath her elegant heel, Mark Tandy's Lot clings to his sense of self despite his complete defeat at the hands of Justin Avoth's angry angel, a spitting, spiteful, stark counterpoint to Lot's gentle intellectual. Vincent Enderby, the waiter/victim, is seldom away from our view - a reminder that Drogheda's powers, though supernatural, are very real.
At just one hour's duration, Lot And His God (in its UK premiere at The Print Room until 24 November) leaves you wanting much more. We know what happens in the biblical story, but we can't believe that this wife of Lot won't be able to talk her way out of trouble. She'll be too keen to continue the exquisite torture of her husband, whom she genuinely loves, and her angel, whom she genuinely desires - and what Lot's wife wants, Lot's wife gets. That we care so much about three such selfish people speaks of the power of the writing and the strength of the performances. After the sold-out success of its Uncle Vanya earlier this year, The Print Room again provides a dark, dark comedy that would not be out of place at The National Theatre.
Photo Zadoc Nava