I had a very busy weekend so it will take more than one post!
It all started on Friday evening, when I went into Bath to see 'Racing Demon' at the Theatre Royal.
It is the first of a trio of plays (none of which I've seen before) by David Hare about English/British Institutions. This one is about the Church of England.
It was written in 1990 and it is focused on issues of that time, but still worth watching.
It is based around the members of a team ministry. Lionel (David Haig), the lead rector, who has lost faith in the Church, and perhaps, in Go. Harry (Ian Gelder), a closeted gay vicar whose younger partner resents his unwillingness to risk being outed, 'Streaky' (Sam Alexander), cheery and good natured but, (as gradually becomes apparent) also liable to pick the path of least resistance, and finally Tony, (Paapa Essiedu) a newly ordained curate with an evangelical approach, who, over the course of the play, moves from enthusiastic evangelist to uncompromising, and unsympathetic, zealot.
Add into the mix a Bishop seeking to oust Lionel from his post, and raging against the ordination of women, and a sleazy reporter seeking to 'out' Harry, and there is plenty going on.
A primary reason why I booked was because Paapa Essiedu was in the cast (I saw his Hamlet at Stratford last year, and was very impressed) In this production, he plays Tony, who is far from being a sympathetic character, and does so extremely well - he progresses from being the new, someone naive curate and becomes increasingly uncompromising, and willing to sacrifice Lionel and the others to his own, rigid beliefs.
In fact, the past generally was very strong. Ian Gelder was very good, in a subtle and understated performance.
I did get a little thrill when I realised that Amanda Root (Who is, and will always be, Anne Eliot to me!) was also in the cast. She gave a brief but powerful performance as Lionel's long-suffering wife.
I enjoyed the play. Parts of it felt pretty dated (which given the play is 27 years old is perhaps unsurprising), but the underlying issues around loyalty, friendship and responsibilities are still relevant, and I am glad I went. (the performance I saw was the last but one of the run)