Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Only one review: but many responses filled with love


Reviews are so difficult.

They do matter, even though we might wish they didn’t.

This year we’ve had very few of them so far. In fact just the one: a very beautiful piece in the Guardian early on from the Blessed Lyn Gardner. (and I've included that below, too)

But what I have had are the most beautiful responses from the audience.

I can’t really put into words how grateful I am for these. I do hope their authors don’t mind if I share some of them with you.

Because this is the time in the Fringe when we would normally be proudly plastering our posters and flyers with stars.

Only we don’t have any stars. Only these responses, filled with love:

“It's hard to describe @jesusthequeen. Not just storytelling, nor politics or religion. It's... a journey of love and humanity.”
When transgender playwright Jo Clifford first presented The Gospel According to Jesus, Queen of Heaven as part of Glasgay! in 2009, it was condemned by the Archbishop of Glasgow, who declared that it was "hard to imagine a greater affront to the Christian faith". He hadn't seen the show or read the script, and neither had the demonstrators who picketed the Tron where it was being performed, one of whom commented: "You don't have to go near a sewer to know that it stinks." Clifford admits that "there is no denying it's a forceful metaphor, though, speaking as the sewer in question, I think I would want to question its accuracy."
So it's good to see The Gospel According to Jesus, Queen of Heaven getting a new production away from the hysteria, in the welcoming hallows of Artspace at St Mark's unitarian church. Part of the fringe, it's performed with an understated power by Clifford herself in flickering candlelight. And it's all the more important that The Gospel is being staged now, in the wake of the Commonwealth Games, in Glasgow, where 42 of the 54 countries competing criminalise lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and they face prejudice that sometimes is life-threatening. Some of that anti-LGBT sentiment is done in the name of Christianity.
Apparently St John's church, down the road, refused to have the show as part of its JustFest. But somebody from St John's should pop into St Mark's to see what they're missing. It's a humane, mischievous and loving solo show, one in which bread is shared, wine is drunk and the familiar stories of the New Testament are reimagined. In the process, the world is also reimagined – as a far better, kinder and more tolerant place. Which is fitting, because when you think about Jesus and the 12 apostles, statistically it's very likely that at least one of them was LGBT.”
“All I can say is that a church refusing to show this demonstrates that it hasn't a clue what the gospel is about. This is possibly the most important show on the entire Fringe and should be compulsory watching for anyone who wants to know what Christianity is really all about. It is also beautiful, funny, sad and absolutely spot on.”

“The Gospel According to Jesus Queen of Heaven was haunting, meditative and beautiful. Everyone who has the chance should see it.”

“Congratulations to the remarkable Jo Clifford on a truly spellbinding and thoroughly enjoyable performance!”

“I am so glad and honoured to have seen it. Truly wonderful.”

“I stopped going to church years ago. A pity really because done well Sunday could be the best day of the week. Imagine that! Wanting to go every week to a wholesome, peace-inducing,community celebration of being alive. But I cannot abide being preached at. A typical sermon only puts questions and objections in my mind and the desire to argue. So what a relief tonight to sit, rapt, engaged and attentive, in a pew, in a church, with no running commentary of dissent running in the background inside my head. .”

“I think your audiences all come away feeling blessed.”

“It is a thing of magnificent beauty. I hold to this: if only one person in the room enjoys your work, feels moved, goes home thinking about the experience, tells their friends about it, your night has been a success. Having seen your play I know for sure I was not alone in loving it last night. But even if I was, it wouldn't matter. Such courage and imagination will sit in human hearts for a long time.”

“I didn't know what to expect from this show - I had a half-baked idea that it was going to be a satirical comedy, taking a swipe at the homophobic elements of some forms of Christianity. I couldn't have been more wrong. It's a touching, life-affirming and ultimately joyous theological exploration of what it means to be a human being. I left looking at the world through new eyes, and I've been recommending it unreservedly to friends and colleagues since. It's a thing of rare beauty."

"I've just seen the show, and it's lovely - thoughtful, beautifully performed, brimming with humanity. Do go if you're in the vicinity."

“The Gospel According to Jesus, Queen of Heaven was very lovely and thoughtful. Well done Jo Clifford and Susan Worsfold.”

“You are a really beautiful performer and your words are so inspiring.”

“My son and I came to see your show on Saturday night 'The Gospel According to Jesus, the Queen of Heaven'.  My son is only 14 so technically he shouldn't have got in.  I came to see your show at his suggestion.  We weren't sure what to expect.  My son is an atheist, unless there is proof, it is just not believable.  Me, on the other hand, I love the poetry of life, enjoy meditation, love empty churches and speak to my angels, Raphael and Michael.  Your performance was proof of my very existence, to my son, I now have an ally!!!  Joking apart I thought it was beautiful.  I think my son enjoyed it, I could hear a snigger from him when you started talking about pubic hair .... he was just about to give the game away!!!  My son is a big thinker, he is sensitive, open and hopefully will be true to himself.  Thank You for sharing your light and reminding me of my own.  With Love ..... x”

“Dear Jo. I so enjoyed your performance last night and wanted to let you know how wonderful your performance made me feel but I couldn't quite find the words. I still can't so I'll just say this. Thank you.”

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