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John on stage

Saltmine Theatre Company’s re-imagination of the Apostle John’s spell in prison is taking the UK’s universities by storm.

Wilson Weaver, a student and CU member at Liverpool University

Figure Image

a dramatic retelling of John’s Gospel
which will be touring UK churches in Spring
Contact creative@saltmine.org
for more information.

‘Hope is a terrible thing’, reasons the Greek philosopher and indeed I had small hopes entering the room, bearing in mind the history of Christianity on screen and stage. This pleasant surprise provoked deep thought, as the clear account of the life of Jesus was done unapologetically, without cringe or boredom.

Story telling

The idea of storytelling is central to the production and the reactions of both the audience and characters are never neutral. While there are often moments you may have told differently, the effect of the stories themselves is a clear signal that you need to respond to this message in one of the ways presented.

Linking well with Uncover John which UCCF launched in September, Darkness Falls tells of John, who was thrown into prison but, faced with the reality of life with no earthly hope, could not help but tell of the man he was thrown in jail for. Christians see elements of Christ which they had never realised, with John’s passion personified. This raw but endearing portrayal is contrasted well with musical interludes and humour.

Easy not cheesy!

As something different and a way in to Christian things that doesn’t leave you reaching for your phone, Darkness Falls cap-tures many demographics of students who would not naturally be inclined to look into the life of Jesus. The comedy keeps it easy and isn’t cheesy, but is still unashamed in its presentation.

The writing doesn’t shirk historical contexts, hellish realities, sexuality or the miraculous and it offers contrasts with Greek philosophies which are not dissimilar to some of today’s world views.

One non-Christian student commented: ‘The play was unique and almost haunting. Even as a non-Christian, the dramatisation of the Gospel of John was incredibly gripping. It was completely different to any other production I have seen.’

Audience members from four continents found the story riveting and got the sense that the story is a real piece of history.

From Scripture

The long monologues come straight from Scripture, which had the potential to be awkward, but they were dramatically put across by the actor’s precise intonation. Powerful and poetic words were obvious, but it is an uncomfortable play at times, as all good art should be. The audience cannot leave unaffected and the moving realisa-tions of each character captures humanity at its most vulnerable.

The actors stay remarkably in character during the interludes, reminding us of their personalities, flaws and genuineness. The set draws your eyes towards the climactic crux and light is utilised startlingly to add to the tempo of the beat and create a harmonious atmosphere on stage. Darkness Falls is an easy invite and a bargain for theatre of this quality.