Biblical theatre show causes controversy

Biblical theatre show causes controversy

An "irreverent" comedy theatre show about the Bible is causing controversy in Newtownabbey, with a DUP councillor calling for it to be cancelled before it has even started over offence to Christians.

The Reduced Shakespeare Company is due to kick off its latest UK tour by presenting The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged) at the Theatre at the Mill on 29 and 30 January.

The venue is run by the local council, leading to the issue being raised at a meeting earlier this week.

The Newtownabbey Times reports that DUP Alderman Billy Ball called for the play to be pulled from the theatre by the Artistic Board.

"It should never have been accepted in the first place," he told the paper.

"The Artistic Board have offended a lot of people in Newtownabbey and further afield by letting this play go ahead."

For Christians, the Bible is the infallible word of God and it’s not something to be made fun of. These people are treating something sacred with irreverence and disrespect.

Billy Ball, DUP

But the Alliance Party's John Blair, who praised the theatre for its facilities and professional production, has countered with his own concerns of "censorship".

He told UTV: "Programmes are planned by an Artistic Board which was appointed and approved by the full council and with which the council has a positive and open working relationship.

"Late, ad hoc, or intermittent political interference in the work of that Board could easily be perceived as political censorship and would not be conducive to good theatre management."

Alderman Blair added: "Like other mainstream arts venues, Theatre at the Mill has to offer a wide range of attractions and productions which may not suit all of the people all of the time but are, in general terms, exactly what the paying public expects from such a facility."

The show at the centre of the row is billed as "an affectionate, irreverent roller coaster ride from fig leaves to final judgement".

According to the promoters, it tackles the great theological questions like "Did Adam and Eve have navels? Did Moses really look like Charlton Heston?"

Maybe Councillor Ball should come and see our show before denouncing it as unholy. But he'd better be quick as all his comments have done is increase ticket sales.

Davey Naylor, producer

They say: "Whether you are Catholic or Protestant, Muslim or Jew, Atheist or Jedi, you will be tickled by the RSC's romp through old time religion."

The show's producer Davey Naylor told UTV the production has toured extensively around the world over the past 20 years and been very successful.

"The company has even performed the show at the Jerusalem Festival in Israel without objection," he said.

"Hundreds and hundreds of clergy members of all denominations have seen the show since its premiere in 1995 and have both endorsed it and recommended it to their congregations."

© UTV

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