LOT AND HIS GOD
by Howard Barker
The Print Room 34 Hereford Road W2 5AJ To 24 November 1912.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat 3.30pm.
Runs 1hr No interval.
TICKETS: 020 7221 6036.
Review: Francis Grin 11 November.
The sublime theatre of questions, not answers.
We go to the theatre to be entertained. We go to laugh, to escape, or sometimes we simply go to get out of the house. But when we really get to the core of it, many of us are drawn to the theatre because it questions the world around us. Playwright Howard Barker knows this all too well as he is "not interested in entertainment"; rather, he believes that "a good play puts the audience through a certain ordeal." (quoted in ‘The Guardian’, 2012).
This hits home when considering The Print Room’s latest production, of Barker’s Lot and His God, a play filled with many questions and few answers as Barker sharply revisits the biblical tale of Sodom and Gomorrah.
An angel, Drogheda, urges Lot and his Wife, Sverdlosk, to leave the "filthy" city of Sodom before God disposes of it. The couple are reluctant to follow orders and what proceeds is a peculiar love triangle between the three. Sverdlosk seduces the Angel, leaving Lot torn between the heartbreak and thrill of her repeated infidelity.
Neither of these characters is ‘pure’ nor ‘filthy’; rather they embody both polarities in extreme ways. Here, Barker interrogates the original tale of Lot, a tale of ‘purity’ fleeing from ‘filth’, to present a new story, one which questions the isolation of these states.
Director Robyn Winfield-Smith brilliantly captures the ambiguities in Barker’s script, cleverly maintaining a neutral atmosphere where the audience can make up their own mind about this world and these characters. The design by Fotini Dimou further maintains this as the café setting can shift from looking grand and chic to a desolate hell-hole as we notice the murky glass windows and buzzing flies.
The production’s excellence is topped-off with a stellar group of performers who clearly grasp the complexity of Barker’s writing. This includes an impressive performance by Hermione Gulliford as she fully commands the stage with her portrayal of Sverdlosk. She is the ‘clean’, ‘dignified’ wife with a silver tongue and immaculate posture, who manages to instantly transition into a tainted sexual ‘deviant’, expertly embodying the co-existing polarities which Barker explores.
Overall, an absolutely exceptional production which truly interrogates the world we live in.
Drogheda: Justin Avoth.
Sverdlosk: Hermione Gulliford.
Lot: Mark Tandy.
Waiter: Vincent Enderby.
Director: Robyn Winfield-Smith.
Designer: Fotini Dimou.
Lighting: Peter Mumford.
Sound: Gregory Clarke.