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George Dillon's Vital Theatre presents...
The Gospel of MATTHEW

30th July - 24th August 2003.
6.20 pm - 7.50 pm
C, Venue 34, Chambers Street
Edinburgh Festival Fringe

JESUS OF NAZARETH as revealed in St Matthew’s Gospel is nothing like the ‘Gentle Jesus, meek and mild’ of the sentimental Victorian hymn. This Jesus is blunt, direct and even at times indignant, harsh and angry. He mocks the ‘bishops and priests’ of his time. They ask him questions to trip him up and trap him; not to seek enlightenment.

For an hour and a half, George Dillon holds his audience spellbound with his personal interpretation of Matthew’s Gospel. Dressed simply in white, he retells the timeless story in front of a vast projection screen. He looks one way and he’s a narrator, another and he’s Jesus, yet another and he’s a disciple, a conniving priest or a healed leper. You must see him switch from one character to another in one of his temple jousts! Terrific stuff.

The lighting helps to set the scene. When Jesus walks on water and Peter almost sinks beneath the waves of the Sea of Galilee, the stage floor is flooded with blue light. Bright white light appears when Jesus is transfigured on a mountaintop on front of Peter and John. When He prophesises of ‘wars and rumours of wars’ the screen fills with terrible pictures of the victims of the cruel atrocities committed in the Second World War, and in more recent bloody conflicts.  When He foretells the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, we see images of the intact twin towers of the World Trade Centre in New York and imagine their inevitable fall

Matthew’s Gospel is chock full of dark and difficult sayings. What stands out? Jesus realises that his radical message will not bring peace, but will divide families. Hard choices will have to be made by anyone seeking to follow him. There’s no merit in only loving those who love you.

This Jesus is more challenging than comforting. George Dillon deserves congratulation for bringing to life the full nature of this figure who still dominates our culture in this post-Christian era.

David Kerr

This production may be touring throughout the United Kingdom after the Edinburgh Fringe Festival ends.  Don't miss it if it's on anywhere near you.  For touring details check out George Dillon's website.

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