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.

Big God - Phil Daniels
Mrs God - Miranda Foster
Clem - Iris Roberts
Natty - Emma Pierson
Baz - Edward Hogg
New God - William Mannering
Teresa - Jade Williams

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).

Popular on Variety

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

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

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

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

More Legit

  • Cambodian Rock Band interview

    Listen: How 'Cambodian Rock Band' Became One of the Most Produced Plays in the U.S.

    One of the hottest trends in American theater this season is Cambodian surf rock from the 1970s — and that’s thanks to “Cambodian Rock Band.” Listen to this week’s Stagecraft podcast below: Playwright Lauren Yee’s genre-bending stage show, part family drama and part rock concert, has become one of the most-produced plays in the U.S. this season. [...]

  • Revenge Song

    Vampire Cowboys' 'Revenge Song': L.A. Theater Review

    There’s highbrow, there’s lowbrow, and then there’s however you might classify Vampire Cowboys, the anarchic New York City theater company whose diverse productions . It’s radical, “good taste”-flouting counter-programming for the vast swaths of the population left unserved by high-dollar, stiff-collar theater options. Vampire Cowboys’ raucous new show, “Revenge Song,” is unlike anything else that’s [...]

  • THE VISIT review

    'The Visit': Theater Review

    Director Jeremy Herrin’s extraordinary take on Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s 1956 play “The Visit” is less of a production and more of a show. A wordy one, to be sure, which is no surprise since it’s an adaptation by Tony Kushner that, including two intermissions, comes in at three-and-a-half hours. It’s never going to be described as [...]

  • Freestyle Love Supreme review

    'We Are Freestyle Love Supreme': Film Review

    For any Lin-Manuel Miranda fans whose hearts sank almost as quickly as they rose upon hearing that, yes, there’s a “Hamilton” movie, and no, it won’t be out for another 20 months, succor may be on the way in the form of a probably faster-arriving movie that features Miranda in almost as big a role, [...]

  • Unmasked review

    Andrew Lloyd Webber's 'Unmasked': Theater Review

    It takes guts to admit you were wrong — especially when you have been so right, so often. Take composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, whose successes with  “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “Evita,” “The Phantom of the Opera,” “Sunset Boulevard,” and “School of Rock” have made him a musical-theater uber-Lord. Early on during [...]

  • Aaron Loeb

    James Ward Byrkit to Direct Aaron Loeb's Off-Broadway Adaptation 'Ideation' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Aaron Loeb’s darkly comic one-act play “Ideation” will be turned into a movie, Variety has learned. The Off-Broadway production centers on a group of corporate consultants who work together on a mysterious and ethically ambiguous project for the government. It premiered in 2016, and went on to become a New York Times Critic’s Pick during [...]

  • Leopoldstadt review

    Tom Stoppard's 'Leopoldstat': Theater Review

    “Leopoldstadt,” the most slow-burn and personal work of 82-year-old Tom Stoppard’s long stage and screen career, is an intimate epic. It springs to astonishing dramatic life in a now bare, but once glorious apartment off Vienna’s Ringstrasse in 1955. The only problem is, for all the visceral emotional intensity of that scene, it forms less [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content