John Wolfson’s The Inn at Lydda, at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, is based on an incident recorded in The Death of Pilate, which can be found in the New Testament Apocrypha.
The mortally ill Emperor Tiberius (Stephen Boxer) in Rome hears about a man who is able to heal the sick; he decides to journey to Judea to be healed by him, only to find he has arrived too late. The man had been crucified three days earlier. Wolfson imagines a meeting between the risen Christ (Samuel Collings) and the Emperor. Will Christ heal a mass murderer?
I presumed the play was going to be serious and was much surprised to find it was so trivial and banal. Thirty-two years on, the Magi are still alive and haven’t aged. The trio (headed by Joseph Marcell) would not be out of place in Monty Python’s Life of Brian. Similarly, Tiberius’s astrologer (David Cardy) is a perfect role for Frankie Howerd in his Up Pompeii! mode.
John, the Apostle, who witnesses the meeting, is inspired to write the Book of Revelation. But it is Caligula (Philip Cumbus) who has the most arresting speech, when he prophesises that the carnage created in the next 2,000 years by Christians will be far greater than anything done by the Roman Empire.
Beth Steel’s latest play, Labyrinth, painstakingly researched, is about the Latin American debt crisis in the 1970s and 1980s in which everybody is bankrupt, financially and morally.
A young man (Sean Delaney), barely out of college, lands a job as a trainee in an international private bank. His innocence is soon corrupted by his greedy and blatantly dishonest mentor (Tom Weston-Jones).
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