Tuesday night to the National to see the first preview of Drew Pautz's new play Love the Sinner. As might have been expected it was a bit of a clunky run - with a couple of technical bumps, some uncertainty over cues and a few of the actors still developing their inner monologues. Despite this there's a decent play bubbling away under the surface and if they can get a handful of smooth runs under their belts it should take off and earn some supportive reviews.
The play addresses some key moral challenges facing modern Christianity - most relevantly the opposition from many African leaders to the increasingly liberal European approach to sexual morality. Drama St Mary's friend, Ian Redford plays Stephen, the Archbishop of Canterbury, a compassionate intellectual trying to hold the church together. His hard negotiations in a sweaty African hotel suite are unwittingly undermined when conference volunteer Michael, played by Jonathan Cullen, has a brief sexual encounter with porter Joseph (Fiston Barek) leading Joseph to follow his client back to England in an attempt to seek asylum; disrupting every aspect of Michael's carefully constructed respectable family and managerial orientated middle class world.
The final scene sees the three of them, accompanied by Daniel, a theological fixer, played with weasel like opportunism by Scott Handy, sitting on the tiny plastic Sunday school chairs, in the crypt of Michael's parish church, where Daniel is hiding out, trying to thrash out both a personal and political solution to the problem.
There's a heart felt call for the church to get real and face up with greater rigour to some of the real challenges to human rights that the current doctrine seems to embrace. It's an important provocation.