The Busy World is Hushed, 3***, London

by Keith Bunin

The Finborough Theatre, 118 Finborough Road, London SW10 9ED tp 25 November 2017.
Tues-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat & Sun 3pm.
Runs 2hr 15 mins One interval.

TICKETS: 0844 847 1652.
Review: William Russell 3 November.

eeking a reason for living

Hannah (Kazia Pelka) in an Episcopalian minister and bible scholar doing research on a newly discovered Coptic scroll which might shed fresh light on the life of Christ and how it has been recorded in the gospels. Her husband died some 25 years before – while she was sleeping by the seaside he walked into the sea and drowned, whether by design or accident she does not know. She was pregnant at the time and carried on with life for the sake of her unborn child, Thomas (Michael James), who has grown up to be a wanderer in the wilderness. From time to time he comes home to search through his father’s belongings trying to find meaning.

To help her with the book Hannah hires Brandt (Mateo Oxley), a young writer and teacher whose father is dying from a brain tumour. He is also gay. Inevitably the two young men fall for one another. It all ends badly, but the getting there is always interesting, the discussions about faith, about the gospels, their contents, and responsibility to the past and how to carry on living the protagonists have are stimulating. But dramatically it does limp along somewhat and one never really cares what happens to any of them. They are, of course, Americans and maybe that is the problem. Societies have different approaches to the issues raised.

But there is no faulting the intensity of the writing, the playing or the skill with which director Paul Higgins keeps the action watchable throughout. In terms of a play about two gay men it makes an interesting pairing with Quaint Honour, also being performed at the Fin borough, although the gayness of the boys is almost incidental to the wanderer son’s plight. As one about people seeking to convince themselves God might be real and of use to them in their troubled lives it is actually, interesting in its own right.

Mateo Oxley is an impassioned, if slightly unlikely ghost writer; Kazia Pelka fleshes out the somewhat ambiguous Hannah – kindly cleric fine, serious academic maybe; and Michael James suffers impressively as the tortured Thomas. But there were times when smacked bottoms all round might have solved things.

Hannah: Kazia Pelka.
Brandt: Mateo Oxley.
Thomas: Michael James.

Director: Paul Higgins.
Set & Costume Designer: Marco Turcich.
Lighting Designer: Matt Cater.

2017-11-05 12:46:07

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