Catherine Trieschmann’s three-hander wades into the faith versus science debate but never quite escapes the shallows. A woman causes upset in the tornado-ravaged small town in the American Midwest where she’s recently accepted a new teaching post. With one poorly chosen, casually spoken word she appears to diminish the beliefs of many of her students. Teenage Micah can’t let this slide. First he asks her to clarify her position and then to apologise for what he sees as an unwarranted attack on his religious beliefs.
Perry Millward and Ciaran McIntyre in How The World Began at the Arcola Theatre, London Photo: Robert Workman
Trieschmann’s characters are more than just mouth-pieces in a binary argument. Perry Millward’s Micah is a spiky but not unlikeable adolescent whose life has been shaped by loss - his belief in a volatile God is fundamental to how he views the world. Anna Francolini’s pregnant New Yorker Susan is, if anything, the more unbendable of the two - though well intentioned, her attempts at tolerance come across as condescending. Ciaran McIntyre, as Gene, Micah’s not-quite-legal guardian, attempts to keep the situation under control but his efforts are not always helpful or welcome. But despite an intriguing set-up Trieschmann’s play gives itself nowhere to go. While the performances are strong, Des Kennedy’s production lacks momentum and just ends up turning in circles.