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
Crime watch: Cara Delevingne and Daniel Brühl in ‘The Face of an Angel’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
music Malik left the Asian leg of the band's world tour after being signed off with stress last week
Author J.K. Rowling attends photocall ahead of her reading from 'The Casual Vacancy' at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on September 27, 2012 in London, England.
peopleNot the first time the author has defended Dumbledore's sexuality
‘The Late Late Show’ presenter James Corden is joined by Mila Kunis and Tom Hanks for his first night as host
Arts and Entertainment
Joanne Harris, author of Chocolat and Blackberry Wine, wrote a blog post attacking the app and questioning its apparent 'strong Christian bias'
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth (Heida Reed) and Ross Poldark (Aiden Turner) in the BBC's remake of their 1975 original Poldark

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Craig as James Bond in Skyfall

Mexican government reportedly paying Bond producers for positive portrayal in new filmfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Disney’s flying baby elephant is set to return in live-action format
filmWith sequels, prequels and spin-offs, Disney plays it safe... and makes a pachyderm
Arts and Entertainment
Nazrin with Syf, Camden
The QI Elves photographed at the Soho Theatre. They are part of a team of researchers who find facts for the television programme 'QI'.
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv0-star review: Sean O'Grady gives it his best shot anyway
Brooke Magnanti believes her reputation has been damaged by the claim
Arts and Entertainment
A large fire has broken out in London's historic Battersea Arts Centre
Arts and Entertainment
Orla Brady as Anne Meredith, MyAnna Buring as Elizabeth Quinn and Joanna Vanderham as Katherine McVitie in Banished
tvReview: Despite the gritty setting, this drama is as fluffy and soppy as a soap opera
Arts and Entertainment
Julianne Moore and co-director Richard Glatzer, standing, on the set during the filming of ‘Still Alice’ in New York
Arts and Entertainment
Great British Sewing Bee finalist Matt Chapple
tvReview: He wowed the judges with an avant garde dress
Arts and Entertainment
Driven to the edge: 'Top Gear' producer Oisin Tymon is said to have had a row with Clarkson
Arts and Entertainment
Nazi officer Matthias Schoenaerts embarks on an affair with married French woman Michelle Williams in 'Suite Francaise'
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Prime movers: Caitriona Balfe (centre) and the cast of Outlander
Feasting with panthers: Keynes
Arts and Entertainment
Strung out: Mumford & Sons
Arts and Entertainment
Avant-garde: Bjork
Arts and Entertainment
Despite a decade of reform, prosecutions and convictions of rape has remained consistently low
arts + entsAcademic and author Joanna Bourke in warning to arts world
Arts and Entertainment
Electro Velvet, made up of Alex Larke and Bianca Nicholas, will represent the UK at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

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

    The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

    The saffron censorship that governs India

    Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
    Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

    How did fandom get so dark?

    Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
    The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
    The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

    Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

    Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
    Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

    Disney's mega money-making formula

    'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
    Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

    Lobster has gone mainstream

    Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
    Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

    14 best Easter decorations

    Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
    Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

    Paul Scholes column

    Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
    Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

    The future of GM

    The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
    Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

    Britain's mild winters could be numbered

    Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
    Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

    The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

    The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
    Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

    Cowslips vs honeysuckle

    It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
    Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss