One Flesh

One Flesh, performed at the King’s Arms from 29 Feb – 1 Mar, is the latest play from writer and director Naomi Sumner.  When you have to choose between church, family and the person you love, where do you find the answers?  This play addresses the conflicts and challenges within the church’s approach to same sex marriages.

The play centres on brother and sister, Caleb and Esther.   Esther wants to marry Natalie but needs the approval of her brother, a pastor in the church.  Caleb is torn between his love for his sister, and his love for God; his position is deepened by the blinkered approach from his wife, Leah.  At the same time the perfect Christian couple Hannah and Dan are going through their own challenges.  This is an important topic (see also Dancing Bear), which can be difficult to address on stage as the audience may have preconceptions, both excessively positive or negative.  For this reason I like the intelligent approach, deliberately written to lay out the arguments, highlight the contradictions and provoke questions.

The end result is a well constructed play that builds gradually, but consistently, throughout.   I like the pace, which draws you into the world that is created, and gives you time to consider the various viewpoints.  The play picks up the key contradictions and works them together.  The high quality of acting means that the characters are effectively developed and you stay engaged all the way through.  It’s well directed and makes good use of the main theatre space in the King’s Arms.

That’s not to say there aren’t flaws.  I would like to have seen Caleb showing more love for his sister early on, to firmly set the internal conflict within him.  And although Esther’s partner Natalie is perfectly well acted, I didn’t find the character convincing and think there is an opportunity to bring out more drama in the writing.

But this is a thoughtful, intelligent play addressing a difficult and relevant subject.  Its slow pace may not be for everyone but if you are prepared to invest in the arguments and characters it’s a rewarding evening.

Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

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