The Shroud by Bernard Field. The Playground Theatre, Latimer Road, London W10 to 5 March 2022. 3***. William Russell.

The sins of omission committed by the Catholic Church in Ireland are well documented but this chilling play by Bernard Field undoubtedly brings home just how the behaviour of paedophile priests were tolerated and concealed. It is not perfect – the production is very basic but director Jim Ivers has secured good performances from his cast. By the end one is totally taken aback by Field’s story – he even packs in an unexpected last minute shock just as one thinks it cannot get worse. The Playground is really too cavernous a space for this unnerving play but there should be enough congregations in North Kensington to fill it – Anglican or Catholic as both have experience of paedophile priests abusing the choirboys.
Father Martin (Bernard Field) has been two years in his parish and the Bishop (Michael Irwin) has come to call. The conversation is general, we learn that Martin’s predecessor, Father Jonathan (Fintan Kelly) disappeared in mysterious circumstances, that a boy had drown in a local river, and that the Bishop had plans for Father Martin. Gradually we discover that he has come to tell him to stop what he has been up like a good priest. We know that the Father has hidden a choirboy under the altar and wants him to stay quiet until the Bishop has left. After the Bishop, a wonderfully unctuous soul more concerned with his lunch than anything else, leaves Father Jonathan arrives seeking confession. The play is really a series of monologues and what Jonathan has to say is not easy to listen to. He is a threat to Martin and he is determined to unburden his soul come what may. Field has come up with a thought provoking worth seeing drama. Field makes Martin an apparently nice soul while Kelly creates a monster, except they both are – and the Bishop, all smooth hypocrisy is the worst of the lot.

Michael Irwin: the Bishop.
Fintan Kelly: Father Jonathan.
Bernard Field: Father Martin.
Annabel Cleare: The Mother,
John McDonagh: JP.

Director: Jim Ivers.
Ser & Costumes: Iris Merz.
Lighting & Sound Design: Colm Ivers.

ReviewsGate Copyright Protection