BritishTheatre

Published on

October 31, 2019

REVIEW: God's Dice, Soho Theatre London ✭✭✭✭

By

julianeaves

Julian Eaves reviews God's Dice, the debut play from David Baddiel now playing at Soho Theatre, London.

God's Dice Soho Theatre

Leila Mimmack (Edie), Alan Davies (Henry). Alexandra Gilbreath (Virginia) and Nitin Ganatra (Tim) in God's Dice. Photo: Helen Maybanks God's Dice Soho Theatre

30th October 2019

4 Stars

BOOK TICKETS

This is a brilliant debut from David Baddiel who - incredibly - has not produced a play before.  His mastery of the stage is mature and his handling of complex themes nearly faultless in this fascinating take on the endlessly vexed question of proving the existence of God.  James Grieve is a sympathetic and unfussy director, with a clear, straightforward set by Lucy Osborne (who dresses the cast with naturalistic correctness).  Ric Mountjoy has more fun with some showy lighting transitions, and Dominic Kennedy's sound design appeals even more to the senses.  There are some usefully imaginative videos from Ash J Woodward to open up still further the sensory range of the production (and which show off the camera-loving face of Leila Mimmack to breath-taking advantage).

God's Dice review Soho Theatre

Alan Davies (Henry) in God's Dice at Soho Theatre. Photo: Helen Maybanks

However, it is in the lucid, credible and light-footed performances of Alan Davies, Mimmack and Alexandra Gilbreath that the show really succeeds.  Davies is a gorgeous stage actor, totally at home in the intimate surroundings of this theatre.  He makes a good fist of atheist academic, Henry's journey into embracing spirituality, when his god-fearing Christian student, Edie (Mimmack) gets him to start using mathematical equations to confirm the validity of miracles.  Meanwhile, his celebrity atheist wife, Virginia (Gilbreath) does her best to keep them apart, somewhat aided and abetted by Henry's colleague, would-be sleazy student predator Tim (Nitin Ganatra).  Adam Stawford fills in a couple of other handy parts along the way.

David Baddiel

Alexandra Gilbreath (Virginia) and Adam Strawford (Interlocuter). Photo: Helen Maybanks

It's a tidy package and one that Baddiel has crafted intelligently and elegantly.  The pacing is just right and there is barely a moment when dramatic interest is not sustained (a fleeting moment in the first half when we seem to have wandered off into intellectual discussion with little theatrical purpose in mind can, I think, be forgiven).

The crux of the matter (if you will) lies perhaps more in whether you do or do not take this kind of rather presbyterian quibbling seriously or not.  Similar to the religious breast-beating of 'Light Shining In Buckinghamshire', possibly, this play stands or falls on the audience's willingness to go along with its essential theological premise, that there is an intimate interface between spirituality and the personal.  This play absolutely demands that you do accept this if you are to sustain an emotional interest in the characters.

God's Dice play

Leila Mimmack (Edie) and Niitin Ganatra (Tim). Photo: Helen Maybanks

However, if you believe that religion is an essential social construct, created by human beings to rein in their vices and police their egos, saving them from the insanity that feeds off 'perfect knowledge' and absolute power, then this might all strike you as something of a side-show.  Furthermore, since the ultimate direction of the play actually goes in an entirely different direction (one stealthily prepared for by Baddiel, but a tangent, nonetheless), you might end up feeling that you've just been led up the wrong Garden of Eden path altogether.

You pays your money and you takes your choice.  As a piece of theatre, it works wonderfully well.  As a sort of amusing after dinner intellectual game, it has its merits.  As a serious piece of thinking you will either find yourself able to 'buy' what it has to sell or be left wondering why it never occurred to anyone involved that they were maybe barking up the wrong Jesse's Tree.

Until 19 November 2019 at Soho Theatre

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The British Theatre website has been established to celebrate the rich and diverse theatrical culture of the United Kingdom.  Our ethos revolves around encouraging and nurturing the performing arts in all its forms. The spirit of theatre is very much alive and the British Theatre website is at the forefront of delivering news and information to audiences and enthusiasts everywhere. Our team of theatre journalists and reviewers are working hard to cover productions and news.


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ABOUT BRITISHTHEATRE

BritishTheatre.com
Opening Night Media Ltd
3rd Floor, 80 St. Martin’s Lane
Covent Garden
London WC2N 4AA

The British Theatre website has been established to celebrate the rich and diverse theatrical culture of the United Kingdom.  Our ethos revolves around encouraging and nurturing the performing arts in all its forms. The spirit of theatre is very much alive and the British Theatre website is at the forefront of delivering news and information to audiences and enthusiasts everywhere. Our team of theatre journalists and reviewers are working hard to cover productions and news.


We are constantly developing the site and are always open to receiving feedback from our readers. Join our mailing list to be kept informed of all the latest news that is of interest to you..