Faith And Fundamentalism Drive People To Extremes

Martyr at Unicorn Theatre ★★★★☆

Lettie Mckie
By Lettie Mckie Last edited 29 months ago
Faith And Fundamentalism Drive People To Extremes Martyr at Unicorn Theatre 4
Natalie Radmall-Quirke as Erica White and Daniel O'Keefe as Benjamin Sinclair, ATC, photo Stephen Cummiskey.

Meet Benjamin Sinclair (Daniel O’Keefe), a fired up teenager who has just discovered God. His new faith is uncovered when he starts acting up in class, refusing to take part in mixed swimming lessons. His overprotective mother (Flaminia Cinque) thinks he’s taking drugs but the truth is the sight of girls in bikinis offends Ben’s new found religious principles.

Leading German playwright Marius von Mayenburg's play Martyr is part intelligent theological debate, part emotive human drama, with an intense, thought provoking script that drives right to the heart of man’s struggle to understand the world around him.

A cast of entertaining characters surround Benjamin. Erica White (Natalie Radmall-Quirke) is his guidance teacher and nemesis, an infuriatingly self-righteous atheist who can’t hide her hatred of the boy, while ineffective but kind vicar Dexter Menrath (Kriss Dosanjh) tries to reason with him. Mark Lockyer perfectly blends patronising misogyny and complete disinterest in anything other than exam results as head teacher Willy Belford. Farshid Rokey is the unexpected star of the show as Ben’s geeky friend George Hansen who harbours a secret crush on the protagonist. His sly means of seduction provide some much needed comic relief.

O’Keefe is a fierce presence on stage, a volatile bundle of dangerous thoughts and repressed desires while Radmall-Quirke lurches from icily tolerant to utterly deranged, clinging to her dogmatic principles for dear life. Martyr’s commentary on religious belief is refreshingly balanced as both Ben and Erica eventually drive themselves to insanity. As their lives fall apart their hypocrisy is exposed, their fate a dire warning for extremism in all its forms.

Martyr is on at Unicorn Theatre, 147 Tooley Street, SE1 2HZ until 10 October. Tickets £8-£18. Londonist saw this production on a complimentary ticket.

Last Updated 22 September 2015