Grace, the daughter of an oppressive Christian fundamentalist has grown up to become a militant atheist. In turn, her own son proposes leaving his career in law to enter a seminary, causing a rift in the family. Arguments and philosophies abound and the strain is made even greater when his girlfriend announces her pregnancy - until their worlds are blown apart by his sudden death in a terrorist attack.
Promoted as a theatrical essay and with a script informed by some of the greatest religious and philosophical thinkers of our age, there is very little in the pre publicity to commend this play to the average West End audience. This said, On Religion has to be one of the most intelligent, thoughtful and well crafted plays to appear in London this year. Writer Mick Gordon has created a tale that neatly addresses all the important points, occasionally lecturing the audience but not too conspicuously and with a denouement and conclusion that plays as inexorably human and totally absorbing.
Gemma Jones’ performance as Grace reminds us what a wonderfully versatile and generous actor she is. Playful yet unmannered, Jones’ journey through these traumas show us both the vulnerability and strength of the human condition. Priyanga Burford as Ruth also brings life to a complex text and the two create some highly emotional scenes that literally bring tears to the eyes. Elliot Levey and Pip Donaghy provide strong support and indeed some of the humour that mark this play as being proof, if proof were needed, that contrary to current belief great plays are far from lacking in the West End.