THE INN AT LYDDAShakespeare's Globe at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse
Ending its short run in the Jacobean playhouse, John Wolfson's intriguing play is a welcome addition to the richly varied offer at this Bankside address.
In fact it began life here, years ago, as a rehearsed reading [with Sam West no less], before turning up on Radio 4.
We're promised “A Meeting of Caesar and Christ” - the Caesar in question, in AD33, is the notorious Tiberius. He's dying, and pins his hopes on an Eastern healer he's heard about. But too late – his man Pilate has already executed the miracle worker from Nazareth. If not historical, then this much is at least apocryphal. But there's no evidence that the ailing emperor ever made the journey to Judaea, or talked face to face with the risen Jesus.
Despite some uneven writing, it makes a thought-provoking play, the theology and the history leavened in Andy Jordan's simple, lively production with a good deal of humour, ranging from cerebral wit to crude anachronisms.
The Magi, now elderly but still following the Messiah whose birth they witnessed, have some of the best lines, Joseph Marcell's Caspar particularly good. Philip Cumbus owns the stage as a divinely decadent Caligula, and David Cardy is an engagingly down-to-earth astrologer.
The two men-gods at the philosophical heart of the play are Stephen Boxer's rambling, raging Tiberius, well contrasted with Samuel Collings's serene Jesus.
John the Evangelist – a strong presence from Matthew Romain – is left to explain how some things are better left out of the history books...
production image: Marc Brenner