Gate is a new play by Artemis Fitzalan Howard brought to the Cockpit by Deadpan Theatre following previous success with Pre-Drinks/Afterparty at Edinburgh Fringe in 2016.
If you’ve ever wondered about the admin at the pearly gates, Gate presents the bureaucracy behind deciding who goes ‘upstairs’, who goes ‘downstairs’ and what happens when it’s not clear where you should go. Eve is the Keeper of The Gate in Wapping. She’s stressed out because she has a busy morning ahead, her husband is calling about a domestic emergency and Peter is calling to say she’s not meeting her targets and needs to raise her game or risk losing her job.
Her four clients are late but they didn’t know they were coming to see her today. No one knows about The Gate until they arrive and you don’t arrive until you’ve died. Eve has the job of breaking the news and explaining what happens next – form filling and team building exercises before an interview with her boss to decide where they will spend eternity.
Emma Dennis-Edwards plays Eve, the harassed Keeper of The Gate with high energy, convincing as the administrator of the waiting room, following procedure while her clients question the process. Wil Coban is Mark, privately educated, disappointed in the manner of his death. Eleanor Henderson plays Rebecca, all knowing on her second visit to the waiting room and stunned to find Luke (Joe McArdle) has followed her there. Esther (Katie Sherrard) is the only practising Christian of the group who is initially confused then comes to realise why she was not sent straight ‘upstairs’. The play reveals their histories and builds to the moment where they must account for themselves.
The presence of singers Luke Ward, Charlotte Christensen, Jack Reitman and Louise Grayford brings an initially creepy and later angelic addition to the proceedings.
Gate addresses issues of death and loss and what we leave behind as well as the place of faith in an ever secular world. One particularly poignant scene has the characters looking at the comments left by their family and friends on Facebook following their deaths. All the characters are people that have died young. The addition of an older person’s perspective on life and death might have added an interesting dynamic to the play but this is definitely worth a watch.
Reviewed by Rhiannon Evans
Photo: Lidia Crisafulli