Entering the Monkey House I took my shoes off (please wear socks to this venue if you don’t want to use communal slippers/go barefoot!) and headed upstairs to the top floor. After a while, we were admitted into the space and the show began.
The cast of 6, two family units of two and the two young men. Unfortunately, I somehow missed the information sheet, so I can’t tell you the names of these characters or who played them! One of the two female characters was a young female sex worker who remained consistently sceptical of what was going on around her, and served as a reminder to those having a hard time that they could be having it worse- but other than that she made no real effect to the plot which I found disappointing for what could have been such a strong influential believable character.
The main plot focused on a bastard child caught between protecting his mother from being cast away from the Jewish community and finding his own path in the world. This is complicated, however, when the son of the Judge (who had sold his land to the Roman state and burnt the town’s supplies in an effort to fulfil a prophecy that never came true) caught a man who everyone referred to as ‘teacher’ and appeared to be some kind of prophet spooning his young Greek protégé.
As you can gather it was a very complex plot, and unfortunately, there was little comic relief which made it harder to stay engaged with the plot that raised a lot of questions. The staging and tech (which was simple, but effective) was helpful in focusing your attention where needed, and the play was not a bad concept by any stretch of the imagination. In summary, I think this is the play for you if you if you know the history and politics of the time, and want to get your teeth into something gritty, or if you want a clean performance and to learn more about Jewish/Roman tensions 2000 odd years ago. It’s not for you if you fancy a bit of informative escapism, however.