The Grand Inquisitor, Pit, London

Come on man, spit it out. You're here to entertain us!
Click to follow
The Independent Culture

This piece might seem admirable at first. The staging is markedly simple: no mundane clutter, only a grey plinth and two wooden stools. A halo of light, strangely warm for a prison cell, invites intimate concentration. Stepping forward in a long black coat with his thin hands gently clasped, Myers is the narrator, then slips into the role of the Inquisitor. Always speaking softly, he addresses us and The Listener - the silent Christ-like actor, Rohit Bagai - who only rises at the end to kiss his condemner. Myers' performance is mildly unsettling because he seems sagacious even as he plays the Devil's advocate.

The gist of the Inquisitor's thesis is that Jesus was wrong to reject the temptations offered in the Wilderness, the common multitude don't really want spiritual freedom and will only be happily docile if ruled over by a Church that has taken up the sword and other worldly forms of power.

Of course, there are contemporary reverberations: religio-political leaders and prisoners; a fanatic of one sort or another, with blood on his hands, publicly claiming to have God on his side. However, frankly, Dostoyevsky's chapter is often an abstruse theological slog and so is this albeit filleted adaptation. In the novel, the fraught Ivan Karamazov at least apologises for incoherent storytelling. Myers' mellow manner - albeit with a hint of darkness in the eyes - brings out too few dramatic conflicts. The hard truth is, theatrically speaking, The Grand Inquisitor is a bore.

Today, 0845 120 7511, then 16 to 18 March, Lowry, Salford 0870 111 2000