Son of Man
A small, claustrophobic crypt. A single lamp. Darkness. Cloaked figures. Torture, sin and death.
Crafted from 48 Medieval mystery plays, Son of Man seeks to explore the relationship between existence and morality.
God (Noah Carvajal) and the Devil (Eli Carvajal) are arguing about humanity. Mankind is supposed to live by the Ten Commandments, yet few are following them and the world is by no means a moral place.
The two sinners (Juliette Motamed and Max Packman-Walder) are berated, both physically and mentally, until their final fate is revealed and brutally carried out.
Son of Man claims to be ‘the first new play written in authentic Middle English since the Middle Ages’, yet there are certain phrases (like ‘true story’) which lend themselves more to the 21st century than Medieval times.
Although the audience can follow the majority of the plot from the actions, the enunciation of the cast made it difficult to follow the language completely. I studied both Middle English and Latin at university, but struggled at times and my fellow audience members seemed quite confused.
However, this performance offers something else. Its rawness and physical displays of violence – they’re not acting, they’re actually being flogged and whipped – are quite intimidating. My heart was beating fast, wondering if we would get out of the crypt alive, or if we were to be indoctrinated into some terrifying religious cult.
It is this almost innocent display of performance which makes this piece so frightening. The broken skin on the woman’s back. The blistered neck of the man. Religion, and how it is perceived, can be a terrifying experience.
The concept and acting are both strong, yet the overall piece lacks structure and purpose… unless its point is to intimidate and shock the audience – in which case, it succeeds.
Reviewed by Michaela Clement-Hayes
Son of Man is playing at the Crypt of the Church of the Order of St John until 9 August 2014