THE GOD OF SOHO
by Chris Hannan.
Globe Theatre 21 New Globe Walk Bankside SE1 9DT In rep to 30 September 2011.
Runs 2hr 30min One interval.
TICKETS: 020 7401 9919.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 1 September.
The gods – and The Globe season – come tumbling down.
It had to be too good to be true – a resplendent Globe season including fine touring shows, a luminous Much Ado and the return of Howard Brenton’s magnificent Anne Boleyn, rounding off with Tony Harrison’s reminder of how medieval mystery plays mixed today’s world (c 1400AD) with a sense of cosmic purpose.
And now this. Where Mrs God, with her colostomy bag, keeps making the kind of sound only a trombone or tuba’s bottom notes can replicate. Unreproducible in print, it’s a sound that forms the best response to this end-of-season let-down.
A mock-heaven is nothing new. But the tawdry, travestied neon-signed ‘Heaven’ of Chris Hannan’s play has no substance, real, burlesque or travesty. So his play’s more about Soho than God? Hardly – unless Soho simply symbolises the tackier elements of life (an idea parochial when not plain inaccurate).
It’s often hard to know where the action’s taking place. Despite a fine jazzy band, all too little heard by comparison with the amount of words, and some contrived parades, this play would often benefit from an indoor production, with scenery indicating locations.
The ‘dirty bits’ are the most fun – including an extended piece of uneventful rutting in a double-bed and a repeated song with a refrain where an individual or a group repeatedly identifies themselves as excremental, in a term which this site’s software will not permit to find expression.
Though “most fun” is overstating it. But any sort of humour alleviates this sadly shallow look at sadly glamorous people hooked-up in the ‘celeb’ lifestyle. They’re an easy target, but have been hit more forcibly than this before.
Phil Daniels brings energetic annoyance to Big God, and Miranda Foster a sceptical self-possession to Mrs God. But when they plummet earthward they have little to do as the schematic action treads heavily along. The sad thing is that Hannan is usually a far more interesting dramatist; it’s as if the idea of writing for the open-air Globe had severely limited his focus, and left him with a play that really didn’t need, in any artistic or social sense, to be written.
Joe Queenan/Terry Cash: Michael Camp.
Edwardo: Richard Clews.
Big God: Phil Daniels.
Mrs God: Miranda Foster.
Baz: Edward Hogg.
New God: William Mannering.
Natty: Emma Pierson.
Handmaiden/Hairy Goddess: Sarita Piotrowski.
Clem: Iris Roberts.
Stan: Beatriz Romilly.
Teresa: Jade Williams.
Street Life: Phineas Pett, Kay Jay Simmons.
Countertenor: David Sheringham.
King Porter Stomp: Darren Hougham, Tim Jones, Romain Ley, Luke Murray, Arif Najak, Jonathan Waller, Badj Whipple.
Director: Raz Shaw.
Designer: Hannah Clark.
Composer/Musical Director: Alex Silverman.
Choreographer: Ann Yee.
Voice/Dialect: Martin McKellan.
Associate movement: Glynn MacDonald.
Assistant director: Sophie Fletcher.