God’s Dice at Soho Theatre
Somewhere between a Ted talk and The Big Bang Theory sits God’s Dice, David Baddiel’s debut play. It is centred on Henry Brook (Alan Davies), a university professor caught up in his fascination with 23-year-old student Edie (Leila Mimmack). A devout Christian and maths prodigy, Edie is convinced that the existence of God and Jesus’ miracles can be proven using quantum physics. She proceeds to poke and prod at Brook’s faith (or lack thereof) until Brook, captivated by her intellect – and possibly his desires, though this is only weakly hinted at throughout – decides to write a book proving the existence of God through mathematical equations. He undertakes this passion project with Edie despite the fact that his wife Virginia (Alexandra Gilbreath) is a world-renowned atheist academic, which results in a series of life-altering events for everyone involved.
It is clear that Baddiel wanted the play to focus on profound scientific debates and lure the audience into an intense finale, but the lack of a clear spark between the actors, as well as a few rushed scenes, leaves it a bit rough around the edges. Individually, each performer masters their own character – Davies is great in the role of the scruffy university professor, and Mimmack shines as the iron-hearted young Christian with a discreetly extremist agenda. Gilbreath plays the sophisticated but playful academic effortlessly, and her final dramatic scene was faultless. Their close friend Tim (played by Nitin Ganatra) also fits the part of a sleazy hipster-wannabe professor in a very believable manner. But together, the cast offered a few awkward exchanges – notably those between Brooks and his wife – that caused rifts in the overall production.
The concluding moment of the play also came too abruptly, following an extended buildup that required more finality, particularly when it deals with the reasons behind Brook’s ultimate decision. It would have been helpful to see him struggle with the reasons behind his choice a bit more. Also, what happened with regard to Edie’s dangerous leap of faith at the very end was not immediately clear, and that was a moment the audience had awaited particularly anxiously.
A fantastic stage designed by Lucy Osborne features eccentric lighting and Ash J Woodward’s trippy video projections, but the flash and pizzazz of the decked-out set does not quite make up for some of the show’s unfortunate, although easily amended, shortcomings. In God’s Dice Baddiel has managed to create the skeleton of a perfect contemporary play – it is enjoyable to watch and the content is fascinating. It just needs a bit more spark to get where it needs to be.
God’s Dice is at Soho Theatre from 24th October until 30th November 2019. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.
Watch David Baddiel speaking about the play here: