10 Edinburgh Festival shows tackling religious themes

10 Edinburgh Festival shows tackling religious themes

My Mum's a Twat / credit: Helen Murray

Theology and theatricality coalesce in these productions across the Fringe and EIF

There is a school of thought, inspired by Richard Schechter's theories of performance, that ritual overlaps with theatre, and that religion can be interpreted through dramaturgical analysis. This has led to a generation of artists confusing their process with the Mass, ignoring the difference between congregation and audience and frequently entertaining for all the wrong reasons. For hundreds of years, the Christian church was not comfortable with acting – getting it banned during the years of Cromwell's Commonwealth – but some kind of treaty between theology and theatricality has been forged in at least these ten Edinburgh Festival performances.

Our Saviour
Mermaids Performing Arts Fund
theSpaceTriplex, Fri 2–Sat 17 Aug, 9.45pm
Probably more on the abuses of religion, Our Saviour turns out to be Reverend Sheen, a man who can heal the sick and seems to have a hot-line to the deity. Yet is he just on the rob, using the word of the Lord to get hard cash?

The Screwtape Letters
Searchlight Theatre Company
Palmerston Place Church, Mon 19–Sat 24 Aug (not 22, 23), 2.15pm, 7.15pm
CS Lewis' epistolary study of a trainee demon returns to the Fringe. Well known for its wit and impeccably devout philosophy, the novel gently mocked the efforts of Team Hell as they try to prevent one human from reaching salvation. Nigel Forde's script adds a cheeky theatrical sparkle to the machinations of the real bad guys.

Bottoms Up!
Minotaur Theatre Company
theSpace on the Mile, Fri 2–Sat 17 Aug (not 4, 11), 4.05pm
It seems likely that the religious figures at the Fringe are going to be villains; this satire has another grand scheme from a man who decides that, rather than pay tax, he's going to be a religious leader. A protagonist who might claim to be the Messiah, but he's just a naughty boy with limited time to convince his followers that he is the real deal.

10 Edinburgh Festival shows tackling religious themes

Jew...ish

Jew...ish
Unleash the Llama
Gilded Balloon, Wed 31 Jul– Mon 26 Aug (not 12, 20), 1.30pm
Classic relationship drama with a side-order of religious complexity. While Max is ambivalent about his religious heritage, partner TJ wants in. With the bonus attractions of promiscuity, amphetamines and trauma, their love will have to fight to survive.

Everyman
Goat Theatre
theSpace on the Mile, Mon 19–Sat 24 Aug, 9.30pm
'A contemporary retelling' of one of the most important plays in English theatrical history. One soul realises that it is time to die, and checks out which allegorical characters are going to be useful in the darkest hours. The archetypal morality play, which has a happy ending even though the hero does die.

Mouthpiece
Howard Payne University Drama Department
Greenside @ Royal Terrace, Fri 2–Fri 9 Aug (not 3, 5, 6, 7), various times
Howard Payne is a Christian University, so it is unsurprising that their original drama explores the relationship between God's word and human corruption. A senator has an accident and encourages others to think about the divine, with the show featuring a soundtrack of traditional hymns.

Lauren Booth: Accidentally Muslim
AM Productions
Gilded Balloon Teviot, Wed 31 Jul–Mon 26 Aug (not 15), 12pm
A personal tale of a women's journey to Islam – via a life of partying. Lauren Booth talks about her life in a nuanced examination of the path to religion, although whether she'll mention her famous in-law is not known at this stage.

10 Edinburgh Festival shows tackling religious themes

Lauren Booth: Accidentally Muslim

Total Immediate Collective Imminent Terrestrial Salvation
National Theatre of Scotland
The Studio at Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, Wed 7–Sun 25 Aug, various times
Tim Crouch is a cheeky director, fond of messing with formats and creating an experience that is as emotional as it is cerebral. Delving into that ambiguous space when one man becomes a leader, Crouch is encouraging the audience to read along the book that predicts cataclysms and redemptions, and convince them of something that is not true.

My Mum's A Twat
Showroom and Fight In The Dog
Summerhall, Wed 31 Jul–Sun 25 Aug (not 1, 12, 19), 5.30pm
This common complaint from teenagers is more justified in Anoushka Warden's debut play. Mum joins a New Religious Community that has less fashion sense and more fake piety than a daughter can tolerate. Warden will be performing this roughly autobiographical tale of growing up with a family that has been drawn into a twilight world of cults and hypocrites.

Waiting for Godot
LIP Service
The Edinburgh Yes Hub, Thu 22–Mon 26 Aug, 8pm
Because atheism can be a religion too, Beckett's domestic tragedy has become the Holy Book for theatre for the past fifty years. The irony of picking a notoriously agnostic script in this selection is, of course, undermined by Beckett's liberal use of Biblical references and the constant arguments that this is all about what happens after the Death of God.

Total Immediate Collective Imminent Terrestrial Salvation

  • 4 stars

A new play by Tim Crouch about a cult leader.

Bottoms Up!

Minotaur Theatre Company Wayne is a conman. Wayne doesn't want to pay taxes anymore. Wayne discovers that the heads of all religious bodies are excluded from doing so. Luckily enough, this is around the same time he discovers he's the reincarnation of Jesus Christ. With the help of fellow con artist Kathie, Wayne has…

The Screwtape Letters

Searchlight Theatre Company This widely acclaimed production returns to the Fringe for four performances. Nigel Forde's 'sparkling script' and David Robinson's 'impressive Screwtape' (Stage) bring to life Lewis' classic book, which has sold millions worldwide. Set in the study of Professor Screwtape, the devils set…

Lauren Booth: Accidentally Muslim

  • 3 stars

AM Productions The daughter of a troubled TV star, Lauren Booth survives a house fire, embraces Soho hedonism and ends up being the skeleton in her family's closet. Her biggest surprise comes when she wakes up in a mosque to a shocking revelation. Accidentally Muslim tracks Lauren Booth's journey from hedonism to Hajj…

Mouthpiece

International Collegiate Theatre Festival presents Howard Payne University Drama Department An original one-act drama presented by Howard Payne University. This play depicts Senator Michael Wells, who, after a freak accident, forces those around him to consider the power of God’s Word. Simply staged with beautiful…

Waiting for Godot

LIP Service LIP Service brings their critically acclaimed production of Samuel Beckett's tragicomedy Waiting for Godot to Edinburgh from Texas. Hailed as one of the masterpieces of the 20th century, Beckett's work continues to attract and challenge companies, audiences and performers from all around the word. Sit a…

JEW … ish

Romantic comedy about two young millennials, one of whom is Jewish.

Our Saviour

Mermaids Performing Arts Fund To some, Reverend Sheen is a walking miracle. A saving grace for the desperate and needy. He claims to be able to cure terminal illness, make the disabled walk and even erase crippling debt, just with the power of prayer… and a generous donation. To others, Peter Sheen is a manipulative…

My Mum's a Twat

  • 3 stars

Showroom 'My mum wasn't always a twat. But sometime after I turned 10, everything changed. She stopped taking me shopping. She regularly forgot my birthday. And she thought she could heal people.' After a sold-out run at the Royal Court Theatre in January 2018, Anoushka Warden performs her funny and honest account of…

Everyman

Goat Theatre In times lacking in morality and facing ever stronger, but subtle, political propaganda, Everyman is a medieval morality play which asks questions about morals, one’s acts and deeds, power and pride. Goat Theatre asks questions about the sins and sinners of today. Can a life be judged on the basis of one…

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