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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Summer nights: ‘Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp’
TVBut what do we Brits really know about them?
Arts and Entertainment
Dr Michael Mosley is a game presenter

TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

    Britain's Atlantis

    Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
    The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

    The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

    David Starkey's assessment
    Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

    'An enormous privilege and adventure'

    Oliver Sacks writing about his life
    'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

    'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

    The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
    Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

    Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

    Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
    Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

    Orthorexia nervosa

    How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
    Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

    Lady Chatterley’s Lover

    Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
    Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

    Set a pest to catch a pest

    Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
    Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

    The dark side of Mexico

    A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
    Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

    Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

    Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
    A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

    A nap a day could save your life

    A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
    If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

    If men are so obsessed by sex...

    ...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

    Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
    The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

    Rolling in the deep

    The bathing machine is back but with a difference
    Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

    Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

    Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935