Lucifer Saved at the Lion and Unicorn
Peter Oswald’s challenging comic play Lucifer Saved is ambitiously attempted in this small production with disappointing results.
Set after the Second World War, Lucifer, a former army chaplain, struggles to remember his dark past as he lives out his old age with his elderly war comrade and young daughter. Then a band of enigmatic circus performers burst into his life, bringing with them pieces of the truth he has forgotten.
A surreal and complex script with a glorious sense of humour, Lucifer Saved is peppered with eloquent dialogue, crafty one liners and endless comic potential. The prose should sing like poetry, however in this rather clumsy production the jokes fall flat and the genius is lost among the bumbling chaos. Admittedly a demanding play with heavy speeches and a disjointed narrative, the cast do not rise to the challenge, shouting their way through their lines and confusing overacting with enthusiasm.
The cast members tackling the difficult prose are the ones who fall flattest, while those with less to say are the only ones who manage to sparkle in this tiresome production. The silent bearded lady expresses more with her eyes as she peeks over her beard than most of her fellow actors do throughout their lengthy speeches, while the dim-witted circus performer adds a much needed hint of comedy in his rare lines. However, the most puzzling downfall for this lacking production is the apathetic lead of Lucifer, played by none other than the writer himself – Peter Oswald. It is astounding that the play’s very writer is unable to deliver his own words with devotion, suggesting that perhaps Oswald should stick to his day job.
The set design is creative and used the limited space well, often using props to seamlessly change from scene to scene. A swirl of barbed wire dotted with poppies encases the stage, making for a brutally attractive backdrop for this disappointing play.
Apart from this, and a few redeeming scenes involving the circus performers, this farcical romp is a loud and shrieking jumble in much need of a good clean up.
Lucifer Saved is at the Lion and Unicorn Theatre until 17th May 2014. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.