The Awakening at Brockley Jack Studio Theatre
The Awakening is an award-winning theatre production written by Julian Garner; having won the Norwegian Ibsen Award in 1989, it has since been performed numerous times across Europe and is now staged at the Brockley Jack Studio Theatre in London.
The Awakening narrates the life of simpleton Johannes (Alex Dowding), who conducted the violent rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl, following his imprisonment. His do-gooder Agnes (Grace Cookey-Gam) decides to grant Johannes the opportunity to make a life for himself working at a farm after teaching him the Bible. The beginnings of Unn (Joana Nastari), the farm’s impatient owner, and Johannes are strenuous but soon attraction occurs. The memory of Johannes’ wrongdoings emerge when a broken man named Iverson (Jarren Dalmeda) begins scorning the Christian value of forgiveness that Agnes so ardently preaches.
This particular adaptation is directed by Madelaine Moore. Set in Scandinavia, the stage mainly consists of barren wood and is accordingly decorated to suit the current scene’s purpose (prison, farm, church, etc.). The four actors appropriating this stage are admittedly burdened with an enormously challenging responsibility, portraying the darkest that could ever befall man. Despite the onset of the play seeming dramatically forced, this method of acting, however, does work once the story is put into motion.
Christianity’s teachings are the focus of this drama, with particular comments on the Bible’s contradictoriness. The Bible is Johannes’ solace – in fact, his prison moniker is “Johannes Christ” – and he desperately wants to believe that God truly forgives when one repents for their sins. Even the overly righteous Agnes has doubts, and soon the morals she preaches have a harmful effect on Johannes: his maddening guilt reduces him to an infantile state where he often soils himself and suppresses his sexual urges. Upon the discovery of Song of Solomon, however, he exults in them.
This is exemplary of the hypocrisy in our present-day society. Bible-bashing is abundant in The Awakening but what the characters preach is – as they say – not practiced.
The Awakening is at Brockley Jack Studio Theatre from 6th until 24th September 2016, for further information or to book visit here.