Theatre / Flying turkey

Missing Jesus

Arnolfini, Bristol

Q: When is a play not a play? A: When it's performance art. This premiere of a new show by Entwistle, whose previous work has included collaborations with the People Show, and her own Slipper Trips and Fine, treads an uneasy line between the two genres.

With music by Jocelyn Pook and design by Laura Hopkins and Jo Joelson, the stage seemed set for a "Live Art" theatre of sound and image, but there was more than a whiff of the old kitchen sink in what turned out to be a traditional, text-bound work. And as a text, it didn't, perhaps, really work at all.

On a stage-enclosure ankle-deep in feathers stand a shed, a mouldering old armchair and a table with an oven-ready turkey on it. It's a set that could double for a lost Arnold Wesker play set in a Norfolk Bernard Matthews factory, and even the four performers might be made to fit the social- realist frame. Though it's difficult to tell, they seem on one level to be a mother and her three daughters, bickering with each other on Christmas Eve. There are a few wrapped-up presents, lots of dialogue about faith or the lack of it, and a trying narrative tease about waiting for the man whose name is in the title. Of course, it isn't as simple as that: the shed also serves as a nesting-box, a confessional and a kind of Wendy house; the daughters are birds, too, though one of them is a carol singer who also seems to be a fairy on the top of the Christmas tree, or maybe an angel. Whatever you like, really.

Entwistle plays the mother figure, Unsaved, whose lack of faith is continually tested by her happy-clappy brood who can quote chapter and verse at the drop of an ecclesiastical hat (which also gets a look in later on). Taking off, a note in the programme suggests, from a doubling quote by William James (author of The Varieties of Religious Experience), offers on one level a serious enquiry into the psycho-pathology of faith, but - perhaps unfortunately - it's no Once a Catholic'. Though the dialogue and theatre-games (including an entertaining round of charades about the Bible) are occasionally witty, and Entwistle can write well, the play doesn't offer much in the way of visual metaphor for what it wishes to say, apart from a rather tired flying turkey.

Pook's involvement is barely apparent, bar an opening round of her customary baroque, angels-in-the-architecture, music (topped by the beautiful, floating voice of Melanie Pappenheim), and as the music is relayed on tape, with spontaneity reduced to someone pressing play and pause and turning the volume knob up and down, it doesn't have much effect. Though this was the opening game of the season, neither side - the play or the performance - seemed capable of scoring a goal.

Young Vic Studio, London SE1 (0171-928 6363) from 10 to 25 October.

Phil Johnson

Life and Style
love + sex
Voices
A propaganda video shows Isis forces near Tikrit
voicesAdam Walker: The Koran has violent passages, but it also has others that explicitly tells us how to interpret them
News
people
Sport
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Outbound Sales Executive - B2B

    £18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity has arisen ...

    Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Associate

    £14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time and Part time positio...

    Ashdown Group: IT Manager - Salesforce / Reports / CRM - North London - NfP

    £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and reputable Not for Profit o...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger & Credit Control Assistant

    £14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Ledger & Credit Control...

    Day In a Page

    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

    After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
    11 best gel eyeliners

    Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

    Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all