Review: ‘The God of Soho’

'The God of Soho'

To get away with a second act opening number that constantly repeats the line "I am so shit," writing and production need to have already exerted a pretty strong grip on an aud's affections.

To get away with a second act opening number that constantly repeats the line “I am so shit,” writing and production need to have already exerted a pretty strong grip on an aud’s affections. Sadly, in the case of “The God of Soho,” a new play by Chris Hannan at Shakespeare’s Globe, that’s horribly far from the case.

Hannan, a wide-ranging playwright whose trenchant previous work includes the terrific “Shining Souls,” would seem to be a smart choice of writer but his examination of the worship of celebrity is a spectacular misfire.

The play switches between a heaven peopled by grumpy, arrogant gods and London (Essex and Soho, to be precise), the playground of D-list celebrity Natty (Emma Pierson), her valueless boyfriend Baz (Edward Hogg) and assorted hangers-on. Had the play bothered to come up with a dynamic plot, it would be worth recounting, but suffice it to say that for reasons never truly made clear, the Goddess of Love (Iris Roberts) is there finding out about humans and attempting to sort out her own love life with New God (William Mannering in the calmest, most focused performance of the night).

Elsewhere, characters merely appear to posture, display their ignorance, have sex, be unhappy and generally conform to everyone’s low expectations. The slightly stronger second half makes clear that Hannan is not sitting in judgment on his vapid characters, who are victims of a culture that venerates them.

Hannan’s writing has moments of bitter poetry and his plea for an understanding of the true worth of individuals is wholly sincere, but it’s undramatized. To make audiences care, his characters need either to be more engaging or placed within a plot that has some regard for audience connection or dramatic tension.

In Raz Shaw’s strenuous, paceless production, the actors tend to declaim rather than speak to one another. Furthermore, what little energy they create drains away in the portentous pauses between speeches.

On opening night, when the goddess of love suddenly dropped her clothes to stand naked on the stage, a woman in the audience involuntarily cried out “Oh my God!” That, sadly, was the only authentic moment in a vastly disappointing night.

The God of Soho

Shakespeare's Globe, London; 1,585 seats; £37.50 $61 top


A Shakespeare's Globe presentation of a play in two acts by Chris Hannan. Directed by Raz Shaw.


Sets and costumes, Hannah Clark, music, Alex Silverman, production stage manager, Vicky Berry. Opened, reviewed Sept. 2, 2011. Running time: 2 HOURS, 30 MIN.


Big God - Phil Daniels
Mrs God - Miranda Foster
Clem - Iris Roberts
Natty - Emma Pierson
Baz - Edward Hogg
New God - William Mannering
Teresa - Jade Williams
With Michael Camp, Richard Clews, Phineas Pett, Sarita Piotrowski, Beatriz Romilly, Kay Jay Simmons

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 0

Leave a Reply

No Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More Legit News from Variety