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Gate review at Cockpit Theatre, London – ‘quirky and amusing’

Eleanor Henderson and Joe McArdle in Gate at Cockpit Theatre, London Eleanor Henderson and Joe McArdle in Gate at Cockpit Theatre, London
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Deadpan Theatre’s Gate offers us a vision of the afterlife. A quartet of angels herald us into Artemis Fitzalan Howard’s new play, but this is not a traditional pearly gates situation – in Howard’s play there are several gateways to the beyond and hers takes place in the Wapping branch. It’s place of plastic chairs and dodgy electrics, where a stressed Eve strives to hold down a job ushering confused souls through to heaven or hell.

Howard uses this bureaucratic setting to examine the nature of faith. It’s not the most original idea, and Deadpan’s Edinburgh fringe musical Third wheel explored similar ground, but Howard’s approach however is thought-provoking. She uses sitcom to address spiritual issues and pose philosophical questions, though some of these sit slightly at odds with the tone of the rest of the play.

Director Sadie Spencer makes the best use of the venue, placing her holy host up in the Cockpit’s traversable flies, while all the exits lead back to designer Alex Berry’s depressingly functional waiting room. There are some nicely judged performances notably from Emma Dennis-Edward as the beleaguered Eve, juggling a home life with pressure from a numbers-orientated St Peter and Joe McArdle as the guileless Luke, whose inability to accept cynicism leads to his salvation.

Gate may lack the bells and whistles of Third Wheel, but it offers an engaging interpretation of one of life’s great unknowns.

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Verdict
Quirky and amusing if inevitably inconclusive exploration of faith
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