Writer &Director: Martin O’Connor
Reviewer: Mark McCulloch
Theology is a theatrical performance in two parts which explores the place of religion in Glasgow today. The piece is inspired by the dialect, faith and people of Glasgow. Part one is a reinterpretation of the Catholic Mass performed in the Glaswegian dialect. Part two; entitled A Govan of the Mind is based on the structure of the long-form Novena prayer that follows the sequence of Mourning, Celebration and Expiation, the means through which atonement is made.
Part one uses the unique Glaswegian dialect to guide the audience through the general process and themes of a Catholic Mass. This section looks at telling stories of Jesus from a Glasgow perspective including recurring themes of the city; religion, football and sectarianism, all delivered with good humour. Biblical passages and parables are cleverly worked with a modern, Glaswegian slant. Many insights are given that younger Catholics might relate to: coming up with what to say during confession, misconceptions with the language around the use of Father and beliefs that may not work in a modern Glasgow.
Part two is a reflection partly on the loss of the Govan shipyards and the loss of jobs: the likeness akin to a pain in a leg, which can’t be sufficiently described. At times the piece focusses on the congregation’s thoughts during mass; only focusing when necessary. This, though, caused initial confusion with a few audience members. The poetic nature of certain sections of the piece are lost and is treated more as a technical exercise of how many colloquial words can be included and then sped up, repeatedly.
Overall, the piece speaks of the religion in everyday life in Govan and the sense of abandonment of faith. There was no spark of celebration, as highlighted in the Novena or of the good and change in the city. Theology requires knowledge of the geographic area to truly understand it and a good dose of theological understanding beforehand. A mildly enjoyable event that sadly will not set the world alight.