THE GOD SHOW
Club Pleasance @ Potterrow, Edinburgh
August, 2000

American comedian and writer Paul Wagner has big plans for The God Show as an ongoing project, intending to progress from single-screen video projection to multi-screen interactivity. The Virtual Church of God the fictitious organisation which hosts the show should have nothing less.

Wagner takes something of a scattergun approach to both his presentation and material. The theme of various concepts of divinity is ever-present, as he appears both on stage and on screen in an array of roles, from Jesus and Mary to a simpleton floor-sweeper and an elderly Scots biddy. Segments flow smoothly into one another (and Wagner's timing in interacting on stage with his various video selves is near-perfect), but I could discern no overall structure to the piece. Sometimes he appears in propria persona as a stand-up or a storyteller; sometimes he conducts video vox-pops about the big G, or conducts "live video link-ups" with Heaven or Hell. Likewise, sometimes he is openly scabrous about particular doctrines and those who espouse them, while on other occasions even as he derides tree-hugging New Agery he seems to affirm the centrality of belief and even some kind of reality behind it.

What Wagner does, he does very well indeed, but beyond a broad-brush thematic approach, it is far from clear exactly what he wants to do.

Written for the Financial Times Web site, ft.com

Copyright Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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