The Gospel According to Philip at Theatre N16
Jesus may well have been a teacher and the son of God, but what if managing his disciples was just as much a struggle as keeping track of a difficult group of school children? Arrows and Traps Theatre answers this question in uproarious fashion in their new comedy that takes a farcical swipe at the New Testament through the eyes of the earnest half-disciple Philip.
Opening with a wide-eyed Philip (Will Mytum) revealing to his mother and the audience that he has decided to follow another Messiah ─ a proper one this time ─ the play propels us through the many mishaps Jesus faces while trying to keep his motley crew under control. There’s the smart-ass Matthew (Gareth Kearns), who points out all the flaws in Jesus’ logic with pertinent questions; Peter (Tom Telford), previously known as Simon ─ but to Jesus, Peter ─ who acts the class pet, forever referring back to his “rock” mantel; Paul (Alex Stevens), the homophobe and closeted homosexual that can’t stop thinking about men and hating himself for it; and the unforgettable fan-favourite Judas (Adam Elliot), taking the cool-guy, class-clown role, all whilst sucking up to Jesus. He enjoys getting his fellow disciples in trouble, particularly Peter in some hilarious scenes that culminate in a pointing match between the two.
Performances all round are spot on, and the comedic timing is superb. Nothing is safe, and the wry sense of humour will have you belting with hearty laughter at both the truthful inconsistencies of religion and the exuberant characters. A few scenes do, however, fall flat, certainly suffering from the bloated two-hour running time. A particular scene between the resurrected Lazarus and his wife sticks out, the gag eliciting few laughs and feeling unnecessary to the rest of the performance.
Despite its comedic take, there are some poignant questions raised over topics familiar to religious sceptics, that of the logical inconsistencies that subvert sections of humanity, like homosexuals, and whether religion has had a positive influence on the world. This is intensely delivered in a scene between the Devil and Jesus in the desert, but worry not: the fourth wall is broken in the second act to poke fun at the play’s own fleeting seriousness.
All in all, for fans of Monty Python and the like, The Gospel According to Philip is definitely a show to put on your calendar for a fun night out.
The Gospel According to Philip is at Theatre N16 from 4th until 8th September 2016, for more information or to book visit here.