Reduced Shakespeare Company banned: Unionist council smites Bible comedy


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The Independent Culture

A light-hearted play about Christianity written almost 20 years ago is at the centre of an “astonishing” censorship row after performances were cancelled by councillors in Northern Ireland who deemed it “blasphemous”.

The decision by Newtownabbey’s Democratic Unionist council to stop two performances of The Bible: The Complete Word of God (Abridged) was met with outrage from freedom of expression campaigners.

The show, first seen in 1995, was to have been performed over two nights at the Theatre at the Mill in the town next week, with about 150 of the 800 seats available sold.

Fraser Agnew, the mayor of Newtownabbey council, said: “As the guardians of all that is right in society we have got to take a stand somewhere.”

The productions were part of a three-month UK tour by the Reduced Shakespeare Company, which has put on a series of successful productions in London’s West End and around the country.

Padraig Reidy, of the Index on Censorship, said the decision was “astonishing”.

The show’s publicity calls it an “affectionate, irreverent roller-coaster ride from fig leaves to Final Judgment as the boys tackle the great theological questions: Did Adam and Eve have navels? Did Moses really look like Charlton Heston?”

Sinn Fein councillor Gerry O’Reilly said: “This is clearly an example of certain councillors forcing their religious views on to everyone else.”