My EQView feature this week is a review of The Gospel Inquiry at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The Gospel Inquiry asks how much reporters (in this case Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) embroider the truth to sell a good story?
My EQView review of The Gospel Inquiry is here:
Cut and pasted from the EQView website:
THE GOSPEL INQUIRY - REVIEW
The Gospel Inquiry at The Assembly Rooms set out to examine whether the Gospel writers merely documented what happened or whether they embroidered the truth to sell a good story (thereby making a name for themselves too)?
The play took the form of a legal hearing into the death by Crucifixion of Jesus and the suicide of Judas. All four Gospel writers – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – were interviewed in turn to try and establish the truth.
There were only three actors in the piece (Sandy Nelson, Jimmy Chisholm, and Tom Freeman) and they alternated the roles of the judge, the lawyer asking questions, and the four Gospel writers. This worked very well as it ensured each of the Gospel writers had a distinctive character.
Matthew was a Jew who was very keen to emphasize Jesus’s Jewish lineage, focusing on Jesus’s ancestors and his family tree. Mark was camp and funny, the joker of the pack. Luke was an evangelist, happy to twist the truth if it meant attracting more followers. And John was the radical revolutionary wanting to overthrow the establishment. Each of the Gospel writers was very charismatic, engaging and funny, and commanded your attention. You wanted to listen to what they had to say and to hear their take on the life of Jesus.
A particular focus of the hearing was the feeding of the five thousand, which is the only miracle (aside of the Resurrection) to feature in all four Gospels. Under cross-examination, all four Gospel writers admitted they could not be sure of the exact numbers fed, and the figure of five thousand was probably inflated, but they were all in agreement that was not the point of the story. They had written the story down to show that a large number of people had been fed with a relatively modest amount of food (but not necessarily five loaves and two fishes!).
After all four Gospel writers had given their testimonies we were in for a treat – there was a surprise last minute witness … and it was none other than Jesus himself, returning after rising from the dead! This was a real climax to the piece, and Jesus definitely commanded the stage whilst he was on it.
The lawyer questioned Jesus, attempting to discover who he was and what he stood for. Jesus had some interesting answers, including differentiating between the real Jesus and the stage Jesus, the one used to performing in front of multitudes of people. This made you consider, in terms of people in the public eye, how much can you get to know the real person and how much of what they say and do is just an act? How much does their public persona reflect their true selves?
Throughout the piece, there was a lot of audience interaction. This held your attention, made you feel a part of the piece and helped you engage with the piece.
To sum up, I thought The Gospel Inquiry was a clever and a very funny examination into how much reporters (in this case the Gospel writers) tell the truth and how much they embroider/fabricate in the interests of selling a good story, getting across their message, and making a name for themselves. A very enjoyable afternoon, with lots of laughs, and I left with plenty of food for thought.
The Gospel Inquiry (by Sandy Nelson) played at The Assembly Rooms from 5 to 16 August 2015 as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.