Performed in the indoor, candlelit Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at the Globe, the dialogue feels particularly intimate and immediate. It feels as though we too are sat in the eponymous inn at Lydda with Tiberius and the recently resurrected Jesus. The simple, sparse staging adds to its authenticity.
Comedy is occasionally pushed too far in jolting (not to mention unlikely) lines such as “Are you Jesus of Nazareth?”, but The Inn at Lydda is generally balanced well with the play’s more dramatic moments. The play’s real stroke of genius comes in the inclusion of the Three Kings, 33 years after they first welcomed Jesus into the world with their famous gifts. They provide welcome relief from the monologues of angsty John the apostle, whose presence sometimes seems unnecessary, and provoke laughter with their highly ironic exchanges.
The bloodthirsty Tiberius, played by Stephen Boxer, somewhat dominates the final crucial scene between the emperor and Jesus in which Tiberius is presented with some unwelcome home truths about the Roman empire’s culture of violence and enslavement. It does sometimes feel as if the wisdom imparted by Jesus is being overshadowed by the emperor’s ranting. In the end, however, Christ outsmarts the tyrant and it is not exactly with sympathy that the audience sees him meet a dramatic end.
His death begins the reign of his nephew Caligula, the bloodiest emperor ever, and his final mocking speech to the imprisoned Nazarenes sets alarm bells ringing. As he exits the theatre, there is no doubt that although there’s a new emperor, it’s the same old tyrannical story - and the history books confirm these suspicions.
On paper, The Inn at Lydda seems to hold little appeal; on the stage, however, the ancient and biblical worlds are brought together almost seamlessly.
|What||The Inn at Lydda, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse review|
Sam Wanamaker Theatre
21 New Globe Walk, London, SE1 9DT | MAP
|Nearest tube||St. Paul's (underground)|
02 Sep 16 – 17 Sep 16, Matinee performances on Thursdays and Saturdays; no shows on Sundays
|Price||£10 – £62|
|Website||Click here to read more and to book via Shakespeare's Globe|