THE INN AT LYDDA, 3Star***, London, To 17 September

The Inn at Lydda
A new play by John Wolfson

Sam Wanamaker Playhouse to 17 September
Shakespeare’s Globe,
21 New Globe Walk,
London SE1 9DT

Runs 2hrs incl interval

TICKETS 020 7401 9919 or 0871 297 0749 (booking fee applies)
In person: Mon-Sat 10am – 6pm (8pm on perf days);
Sundays: 10am-5pm (7pm on perf days)

Review by Carole Woddis of performance seen Sept 8, 2016:

Nice parts, but not sure it all adds up
Well here’s a rum to-do. An imaginary meeting between the Roman Emperor Tiberius Caesar and Jesus of Nazareth is American academic and playwright, John Wolfson’s opportunity for a ripe crusade on power and its corruptions.

Except it’s less what you might call `a crusade’ than a farce in the style of the `Carry On’ series. I fully expected Frankie Howerd to appear any moment though David Cardy does a fine, less camp imitation as Tiberius’ unfortunate astrologer-herbal healer Thrysullus unceremoniously put to the sword for trying to make off with Jessie Lilley’s Helen.

The `Helen’? Couldn’t tell you. It’s a bit part anyway, first seen as enslaved and tied up to suit the whims of the next in line, Caligula – yes the Caligula – before Thrysullus tempts her away.

Daft really – and if that all seems a trifle flippant, so is Wolfson’s tone. Yes, there are serious points forthcoming. A dying Tiberius hearing of Jesus’s healing gifts makes the journey to Judaea in hope of a cure. Except, unknown to him, Jesus has been crucified by his Roman governor, Pontius Pilate. Cue realisation by Tiberius he is talking to a dead man – well, a reincarnated one.

Salty exchanges ensue between Our Lord – a cool pragmatic Samuel Collings – and Stephen Boxer’s borderline if not fully signed up psychopathic defender of the Republic/dictator Tiberius in which Jesus finally refuses to help because `you killed the man who would cure you’ – Tiberius’s old sage, Thrysullus.

History plays a pretty big part too with ruminations as to what gets written in and what gets left out voiced by the ageing Three Wise Men, Balthasar, Caspar and Melchior played with wry world-weariness by Richard Bremmer, Joseph Marcell and Kevin Moore respectively.

There are some nicely ironic comments, too, towards the end by Caligula, of all people, on how history will judge Tiberius in comparison with the weaponry and the numbers of people who will be killed in 1000 years: `the carnage of Rome will count as nothing. You’ll be forgotten.’ Quel horreur! Like all leaders, Tiberius is obsessed with legacy.

Andy Jordan directs and it’s either laugh-out-loud for some, or irritation for others. Take your pick.

The Inn at Lydda
A new play by John Wolfson

John, the Apostle: Matthew Romain
Balthasar: Richard Bremmer
Caspar: Joseph Marcell
Melchior: Kevin Moore
Tiberius Caesar: Stephen Boxer
Quintius: David Tarkenter
Thrysullus: David Cardy
Jesus: Samuel Collings
Caligula: Philip Cumbus
Mnester: Chris Lew Kum Hoi
Helen: Jessie Lilley
Guard/Innkeeper: Christopher Bianchi
Guard: Owen Young

Music Director: Louise Anna Duggan
Musician: Avivit Caspi
Musician: Una Palliser
Musician: Sarah Willson

Director: Andy Jordan
Designer: Anthony Lamble
Associate Costume Designer: Kat Smith
Composer: Nick Powell
Choreographer: Siân Williams
Globe Associate – Movement: Glynn MacDonald
Fight Director: Kevin McCurdy
Assistant Director: Isabel Marr
Costume Supervisor: Natasha Ward

The Inn at Lydda was first presented on Aug 15, 1999 as part of Globe Education’s staged readings `Read not Dead’ series, with Samuel West and David de Keyser.
Subsequently broadcast on BBC Radio in 2000 with Michael Maloney and David de Keyser.

First performance of this production in the Sam Wanamaker Theatre at Shakespeares Globe, Southwark, London, Sept 2, 2016

2016-09-09 14:54:44

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