JOYCE MCMILLAN on LOT AND HIS GOD at the Citizens’ Circle Studio, Glasgow, for The Scotsman, 10.10.15.
4 stars ****
IN A CIVILISATION that often seems to be poised on the brink of destruction, how do we think of God? Is he the old bearded man in the sky that we have all learned to reject? Or is he perhaps, a surly and capricious waiter who ignores his customers’ desperate calls for coffee, and ends up blinded and muted by his own avenging angel?
In his new play Lot And His God – first seen in 2012, and now given its Scottish premiere to launch the Citizens’ Studio season that marks the 50th anniversary of the legendary Close Theatre Club – Howard Barker, England’s mighty dramatic poet of catastrophe, naturally takes the second option, creating a tense and eloquent four-hander about sexual decadence in the shadow of cosmic destruction, set in a filthy cafe in the doomed city of Sodom.
Debbie Hannan’s production makes a brave rather than perfect stab at Barker’s 75-minute drama, which involves a tense sexual encounter between Lot’s mature but devastatingly alluring wife – brilliantly played by Pauline Knowles – and the destroying angel Drogheda, equally well captured by Daniel Cahill; for some reason, Cliff Burnett treats the central figure, Lot, like a one-note character part, a voyeuristic buffoon whose vicarious sexual twitchings rapidly become tedious.
Despite its imperfections, though, this is a memorably bold, intelligent, witty and poetic start to the Up Close season, with Knowles and Cahill whipping up a fierce sexual chemistry between them; while outside the cafe, the world starts to end, whether – and however – people choose to love one another, or not.
Citizens’ Circle Studio, last performances today; Up Close season continues until 7 November.