Immaculate*** (White Bear Theatre, 6 August 2013)

Posted: August 7, 2013 in Theatre

This review was originally written for The Public Reviews: http://www.thepublicreviews.com

Pitched to a film studio. Oliver Lansley’s one-act comedy could be described as “Rosemary’s Baby meets Mamma Mia”. It tells of six months pregnant Mia who, having been celibate since parting from her boyfriend nine months earlier, is confronted with the possibilities that the father of her child could be God or the Devil; or perhaps there is something she may have forgotten in a drunken haze. This revival of a play premiered at the 2006 Edinburgh Fringe Festival is the first production from newly-formed Thundermaker. By profession, Mia is a dominatrix who aims to pay off her mortgage by working five hours a week; she is accused of being full of sarcastic one-liners, but, as played by Jessica Doherty, she is a dizzy brunette who comes across as rather shallow and tiresome. Equally shallow is her smug, self-obsessed ex-boyfriend (Matthew J Staton) who is now having an affair with her best friend (Amy O’Dwyer, looking panic-stricken), a baby-hating neurotic. They are joined by a nerdy old schoolmate, now an Estate Agent (Phil Featherstone, producing the best comic turn of the evening) who gleefully stakes his tenuous claim to paternity. As Mia grapples with the riddle of what seems to be an immaculate conception, Archangel Gabriel arrives at her door “without warning and without wings” to inform her that she is carrying the son of God. Playing him, Edward Law appears rather like an insurance salesman with a very quick temper. He is followed by Lucifer (Barry Wilson) who claims that the child will be son of the Devil and then, in the play’s funniest speech, turns to the audience to protest that he is not a bad person, rather someone harshly treated by God who did not fall (from grace) but was pushed. Towards the end, as Mia contemplates birth and mortality, she questions the point of it all. At the same time, the audience could well be asking what is the point of this play, which meanders between satirizing religion and modern relationships, often getting side-tracked and seemingly never certain of its targets or its eventual destination. Nonetheless, there are plenty of amusing lines and winning performances, which make it a pleasant enough way to spend 75 minutes.

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