The Christians (3 stars)

This article is from 2015

The Christians

Credit: Simon Dutson

Engaging theological debate from the team behind Grounded

Rather than engage in multiple existential dilemmas, The Christians addresses only one: not Does God Exist? but Do Non-believers go to Hell? It's a question that vexes many minds among the faithful, and when Pastor Paul – the head of a thousands-strong American church – tells his congregation that no, non-believers do not go to hell because hell doesn't exist, it causes a schism in his flock and a crisis of faith amongst those that remain.

This new play from the Gate Theatre, and the team behind 2013's Fringe First-winning Traverse show Grounded, is smart and engaging, with insightful and complex characters played by a talented cast. William Gaminara commands the pulpit as the Pastor with ease, though the highlight is Lucy Ellinson's turn as a confused congregant.

But while its ideas are never dull, its pace sometimes lags and the bursts of song from the full choir onstage don't quite do enough to make it feel more urgent. Still, it really does feel like the Gate has brought a church to the heart of the Traverse: the audience make up the congregation and when we're told to bow our heads in prayer, it's all we can do not to automatically obey.

Traverse, 228 1404, until 30 Aug (not 17, 24), various times, £20 (£15).

The Christians

  • 3 stars

Gate Theatre From the team that brought you 2013’s festival hit, Grounded. For the last 20 years Pastor Paul has been building his church. Starting in a modest storefront, he now presides over a flock of thousands. Idolised by his followers, today should be a day for joy and celebration. But the sermon Paul is about to…