With a small cast of ten, three stepladders and two ladders, and a limited light show, Walker had to evoke hugely contrasting worlds: the writhing and groaning horrors of Hell, bathed in pools of red; the baying aggression and spitting venom of fallen angels, newly defeated after large scale war with Heaven, a fantastical journey through the gates of Hell, through Chaos to arrive at the paradise of the Garden of Eden.
From his first bare chested convulsion, wracked with pain, yet imbued with an unyielding, ferocious energy, Joe Eyre’s Satan gave a riveting performance. Although he began it too high – ranting like an bee-stung Johnnie Rotten, Eyre settled into the part, hurling himself into space from a bone-crunching height as he surveyed the world he was about to trick his way into, becoming the wheedling, sensuous serpent entwining Eve, icily purposeful, utterly persuasive.
Opposing him, with beautifully measured language, was Roland Singer-Kingsmith’s Christ. Though so many characters on God’s team – angels Raphael (Lucy Fyffe) and Gabriel (Brian McMahon), and God himself (voiced majesticallyby Richard Williams) exude a dull, righteous - almost priggish – authority, Kingsmith’s had only the compulsion of sincerity and humility, but his anguish, lifted by outstretched arms above heads in a crucifix– his cry of agony – matched and answered Satan’s evil, evoked the magnitude of Christ’s sacrifice for man.
Adam and Eve’s fall was horribly portrayed – foreshadowed in a mirrored reflexion of Eve (a naive, vain but delightful Izzy Drury) and Sin (superbly played by Sophie Ducker). Eve’s tiny, crisp bite of the apple, which Adam (likeable James Corrigan) knowingly follows, is superceded by a messy, lustful grappling involving a pomegranate, and the stained antics, shaken awakening, and cowered recognition of guilt is most affecting.
As we roared our approval, we fell out onto the street to find yet another manifestation of our fallen state – a chain of parked cars outside the O’Reilly theatre, each fluttering a parking ticket beneath its wiper. Beware – residents’ parking only.