Noonday Demons

Theatre, Fringe
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 (© Andreas Grieger)
1/5
© Andreas Grieger

'Noonday Demons'

 (© Andreas Grieger)
2/5
© Andreas Grieger

'Noonday Demons'

 (© Andreas Grieger)
3/5
© Andreas Grieger

'Noonday Demons'

 (© Andreas Grieger)
4/5
© Andreas Grieger

'Noonday Demons'

 (© Andreas Grieger)
5/5
© Andreas Grieger

'Noonday Demons'

An engaging, anarchic and absurd battle of devotion from playwright Peter Barnes.

Don’t panic if you turn up a bit late for Rough Haired Pointer’s revival of Peter Barnes’ 1969 play – there’s not really much to see until the half-way point. For 45 minutes, the emaciated, scabby-fleshed St Eusebius (Jordan Mallory-Skinner) works his way through delirious monologues and Latin prayer in the dank Egyptian cave where he’s spent the last 13 years. It’s an assured performance, but a bit of a drain on the old attention span.

Thankfully, it proves a fine warm-up for an anarchic, riotously funny second half, as Eusebius is joined by the identically shackled, loinclothed and bearded St Pior (Jake Curran). The pair instantly engage in an absurd and bitter battle to try to prove who’s the holiest, across rounds including a clownish water fight (with holy water, natch), tales of self-flagellation that make ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ look like ‘Peppa Pig’ and a playfully delivered three-way conversation with Christ.

The comedy ranges from daft slapstick to nudge-wink meta-theatre, with plenty of quick-fire repartee in-between. Underneath it all, of course, the big running gag concerns the dangerous madness that religious devotion can and does inspire, which is surely more relevant now than when the play was written in the late ’60s.

Social commentary aside, at times ‘Noonday Demons’ is like an episode of the classic, squalid Brit-com ‘Bottom’ – a comparison that’s only strengthened by the giant fibreglass mountain of shit that sits in the corner throughout.

By: David Clack

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