In-Theatre Company is based in Bratislava, but Omid Djalili's characterisations range from an Egyptian camel-driver to a Mersey poet.. The piece's message is hackneyed: that messiahs are either destroyed or simply ignored, that we ever more urgently need to begin a New Age. But Djalili's story is based not in the present, but in a past period of millennial expectation: 1844, when numberless sects throughout the world lived in daily anticipation of the Messiah's coming. Djalili's storytelling is confident and animated. Against a series of Victorian photographic slides he shimmies across the stage in winningly implausible transports of religious ecstasy, and conjures up gruesome executions to the tense accompaniment of his own bongo-playing. Where most conventional "Aquarian" theatre is flabby and earnest, Djalili's is skilful, self-deprecating, delightful.
Written for The Independent.
Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.
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