What if the religion you have been following for years does not accept you as you are as you have changed ?Would you deny yourself and continue believing it or is it the religion which has to change as you and many things in life have changed with the time ?
Canadian playwright Drew Pautz seeks the answer in his provocative play “Love the Sinner” at National Theatre ,Cottesloe which has been shown since 4th May and will be on until 10th July.
Curtains open with a sad and rebellion African song and we see a theological debate amongst an international group of church leaders at a hotel in Africa where they discuss needs of Christian doctrine to be changed with the times. Michael(Jonathan Cullen), a British conference volunteer, who experiences a big change in himself after having sex with a local porter Joseph(Fiston Barek) ,types quietly during the discussion .
In the second act Michael who is about to return to England has an argument with Joseph following their sexual encounter as Joseph wants to leave Africa for better life in the UK. However a married man Michael refuses to help Joseph as he thinks he should return to England and live with his wife Shelly(Charlotte Randle)and have kids and maybe deny his real feelings and pretend to be happy for the sake of his religion and expectations of the society. From this point to the end of the play Pautz individualizes the issue of change, which was discussed at the conference ,that human being can face and get restricted by stubbornly unchangeable religion and values of society.
Desperation of Joseph forces him to try every way to go to England which he straight forwardly expresses even shouts at Michael during their argument : “I want what you have. That is what I want.”Joseph’s burning desire for better life troubles Michael when he arrives in England which in fact helps Michael bring out his true sexual identity .
The play stimulates audiences imagination as it does not answer many questions like ; “How did Joseph manage to come to England despite the extreme poverty?, “Why is the conflict between Michael and his wife not strongly expressed in the play ?
While Pautz shocks audiences by showing heterosexual sex scene in details which includes Michael and his wife he hesitates to expose homosexual sex between Michael and Joseph even though it is the main theme of the play. Poverty ,illegal immigration ,difference between poor and affluent nations are also woven through the individuals’ lives in the play.
The stage management of two hours and 17 minutes play, which is directed by Matthew Dunster, is incredibly fast and creative.
Love The Sinner is Pautz’s second staged play after his debut “Someone Else’s Shoes” at Soho Theatre in 2007. “Gospel of Wealth” , “Poor Cousin” are Canadian playwright’s other two well known plays beside the film “Everyone is Special”. Pautz is also a selected writer for the final stage of Met Film Scheme.