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Adagio Teas
   Features  >  London Theatre Reviews

 
THE GOD OF SOHO
at Shakespeare’s Globe

CHEAP THRILLS
By JOHN NATHAN

  Edward Hogg and Emma Pierson/ Ph: Simon Kane

This is not the first time that the Globe’s stage has been used to depict the streets of contemporary England. In 2008 Ché Walker’s The Frontline trawled a world of hookers, hustlers and junkies in a place that looked like London’s famously dissolute district of Camden. And before that – much before – the original Globe Theater hosted Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor, another contemporary view of England, albeit in the form of the bard’s Elizabethan sitcom. 
 
This rambling and, in one scene, funny new work by Chris Hannan is, by contrast, set in the capital’s hedonistic heart of Soho. But it opens in Heaven where Big God (Phil Daniels) – a cockney "geezer" kind of deity – is losing touch with all he surveys including his daughter Clem, aka the Goddess of Love, who, spurned by her lover New God, falls to Soho. Here she rubs shoulders with the groundlings, some of whom are homeless, although all are in thrall to shallow celebrity culture. 
 
Celebrity culture is not exactly an original target. And as this whirligig of a show unfolds you begin to wonder what the Globe’s Artistic Director Dominic Dromgoole saw in Hannan’s script. Was it that in the talent-challenged celebrity Natty (Emma Pierson) he saw the satirical embodiment of our celebrity-obsessed times? If so, Hannan deserves hardly any credit for hitting this barn-door-sized target with unerring accuracy. 
 
The plot – such as it is – revolves around Teresa’s lost handbag, which is brimful of embarrassing sex toys. Will Natty’s homeless sister sell them to the press? Or does she have the moral fiber to resist? You can imagine the tension felt as we wait to find out – virtually nonexistent. The toys are, it appears, symbolic of our dysfunctional society in general and, in particular, the relationship between Teresa and her slightly more talented rock star boyfriend Baz (Edward Hogg).
Underlying all the references to fetishism and S&M, there seems to be a yearning in this show for something more wholesome than the kind of sex that goes with the skin-tight PVC cat suit into which Teresa’s publicist pours herself. Perhaps in Hannan’s mind it is this yearning that justifies the moment that Iris Robert’s Clem removes all her clothes ala Hair
 
Whatever the point, there is nothing more passé than theatre that thinks it is being daring. The scene in which Natty and Baz try conventional sex and are so bored that they attempt it while having their first civilized conversation, is undeniably funny. But not even this compensates for a show that feels as if has been created by self-important drama students, and about which everyone involved will look on with more fondness than pride. Everyone, that is, except the audience, who will have neither.

 


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