Bash, Trafalgar Studios, London
IWitness, Finborough, London
Postcards from God, Jermyn Theatre, London

Sex and violence are a familiar pairing but, as Neil LaBute has realised, love and violence are even more disturbing and no less realistic. In the monologues of Bash (one has two people, but each speaks as if alone), three murderers try to explain what drove them to acts they themselves don't understand. All are, like violence, as American as apple pie.

Reactions to LaBute's work are an interesting test of not only the playgoer's sensitivity but his (and I mean "his") honesty. More than one male reviewer has stated that the character who kills his baby daughter after his job has been taken by a woman has done so for fear of being unable to provide for her. Better than any feminist author, LaBute makes us smell the petrol-fume stench of incipient violence that pervades the air around young men, and that can erupt in flames when combined with weakness - either that of another who must be crushed so they can confirm their manhood, or by their own terrifying surrender to the beloved. One of the murderers is a woman who has been driven to kill by love, but we never doubt that she should not be the one on trial.

All of the actors in Tamara Harvey's revival of these 1999 plays have caught their very ordinary characters' mixture of the appealing and the annoying. Harry Lloyd as the college boy with love in his heart and blood on his shirtfront, and Jodie Whittaker as his starry-eyed date, do something more - they make our own hearts stop as they gently, smilingly intertwine innocence and evil. Everyone's American accents are superb, but these two would fool Henry Higgins.

The latest work in Neil McPherson's imaginative tenure at the Finborough, IWitness is more impressive for the production than the play. Set in a prison cell, the drama by Joshua Sobol (author of Ghetto) is based on the true story of Franz Jagerstatter, an Austrian who was guillotined for refusing to serve in the Nazi armed forces. Franz, a motorcycle-riding mechanic, is no gooey pacifist but a stern, stubborn Christian with no need of priests, certainly not the one sent to reconcile him to the company policy of class-bound conformism and power worship. It is his "duty" to resist immoral authority, he says, scowling, like a railway employee who ignores orders to skimp on safety measures.

IWitness has moments of tension and fury, but these are undercut by a lack of plausibility. Given his beliefs, could his threat of violence ever be more than a demonstration of principle? When Franz is brutal to his clingy girlfriend, saying he wants to be free, are we supposed to see a desperate need to be loved as domestic fascism?

But, if the text is not always persuasive, the actors under Michael Ronen's direction are painfully realistic, from Mel Raido as the almost creepily implacable Franz to Natalia Tatarka's sensitive portrayal of his young daughter, trying to understand a situation that seems stranger than her childhood games of make-believe.

With The Sound of Music in the West End, and now Postcards from God, can a musical about Soeur Sourire, the singing nun who topped the charts with "Dominique" be far behind? I wouldn't rule out anything after seeing Myra Sands as Sister Wendy Beckett waft around the stage, eyes and mouth open in wonder at the rapture of art. With a backing group of four younger nuns making the sign of the Cross in time to music, Sister Wendy offered homilies such as "If we always knew what to do, there'd be nothing to learn" and "Very little in life is black and white", the latter rather contradicted by everyone's costumes.

When the paintings Sister Wendy elucidates come to life, they make far more startling observations. John the Baptist may be just a head on a dish, but that doesn't stop the old spoilsport reproving Salome in song: "The Baptist turned in deep disgust, / Repulsed not by her beauty but her lust." Other numbers were the kind we have all heard before, even if we've been locked in a nunnery for 40 years: "No matter what you do,/You can't deny it's true:/There's no one else like you." Between Sister Wendy telling us how wonderful art is, and her followers telling us how wonderful Sister Wendy is, Postcards is less a drama than a love feast, and our heroine's one lesson in art appreciation is the verbal equivalent of aromatherapy massage. I have higher hopes of the forthcoming all-singing, all-dancing version of Black Narcissus.

Arts and Entertainment
Tim Minchin portrait
arts + entsFor a no-holds-barred performer who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, Tim Minchin is surprisingly gentle
Arts and Entertainment
Clara takes the lead in 'Flatline' while the Doctor remains in the Tardis
tvReview: The 'Impossible Girl' earns some companion stripes... but she’s still annoying in 'Dr Who, Flatline'
Arts and Entertainment
Joy Division photographed around Waterloo Road, Stockport, near Strawberry Studios. The band are Bernard Sumner (guitar and keyboards), Stephen Morris (drums and percussion), Ian Curtis (vocals and occasional guitar), Peter Hook (bass guitar and backing vocals).
booksNew book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Harris in 'The Goob' film photocall, at the Venice International Film Festival 2014
filmThe Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Streisand is his true inspiration
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor contestant Fleur East
tvReview: Some lacklustre performances - but the usual frontrunners continue to excel
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
On top of the world: Actress Cate Blanchett and author Richard Flanagan
artsRichard Flanagan's Man Booker win has put paid to the myth that antipodean artists lack culture
Arts and Entertainment
The Everyman, revamped by Haworth Tompkins
architectureIt beats strong shortlist that included the Shard, the Library of Birmingham, and the London Aquatics Centre
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Justice is served: Robert Downey Jr, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong and Robert Duvall in ‘The Judge’

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Clive Owen (centre) in 'The Knick'

TV

Arts and Entertainment
J.K. Simmons , left, and Miles Teller in a scene from

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Team Tenacity pitch their fetching solar powered, mobile phone charging, heated, flashy jacket
tvReview: No one was safe as Lord Sugar shook things up
News
Owen said he finds films boring but Tom Hanks managed to hold his attention in Forrest Gump
arts
Arts and Entertainment
Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced U2's surprise new album at the iPhone 6 launch
Music Album is set to enter UK top 40 at lowest chart position in 30 years
Arts and Entertainment
The Michael McIntyre Chat Show airs its first episode on Monday 10 March 2014
Comedy
Arts and Entertainment

Review

These heroes in a half shell should have been left in hibernation
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Flanagan with his novel, The Narrow Road to the Deep North
books'The Narrow Road to the Deep North' sees the writer become the third Australian to win the accolade
Arts and Entertainment
New diva of drama: Kristin Scott Thomas as Electra
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Daenerys Targaryen, played by Emilia Clarke, faces new problems

Sek, k'athjilari! (That’s “yes, definitely” to non-native speakers).

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Polly Morgan

art
Arts and Entertainment
The kid: (from left) Oona, Geraldine, Charlie and Eugene Chaplin

film
Arts and Entertainment
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised

art
Arts and Entertainment

Review: Series 5, episode 4 Downton Abbey
Arts and Entertainment

Music
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

    'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

    If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
    James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
    Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

    Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

    Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
    Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

    Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

    Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
    How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

    How to dress with authority

    Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
    New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

    New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

    'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
    Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

    Tim Minchin interview

    For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
    Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
    Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

    Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

    Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
    Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

    How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

    'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

    Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

    Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
    Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

    Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

    After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
    Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

    Terry Venables column

    Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
    The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

    Michael Calvin's Inside Word

    Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past