Published Wednesday, 29 January 2014
Theatregoers flock to the Theatre at the Mill on Wedneday. (© Pacemaker)
Last week The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged) was axed amid claims from unionist councillors that it was "anti-Christian", but on Monday night Newtownabbey Council ratified the Artistic Board's u-turn decision to reinstate the scheduled performances.
The Box Office was inundated when the ban was lifted.
At the first of two sold out performances, 400 people turned out at the Theatre at the Mill for the Reduced Shakespeare Company production.
Speaking on the opening night at the theatre, co-author Austin Tichenor said he could sympathise with strong feeling on the play's topic to a point.
He said: "I understand their feelings about the Bible but I don't understand how they feel that their feelings about the Bible should supersede everyone else's feelings about the Bible and how they should dictate whether or not people should come to see a silly celebration of the Bible."
The Chairman of the Artistic Board, Alliance Councillor Billy Webb, said he had no qualms about attending the performance.
"I am very comfortable in my own faith and I have absolutely no fear to go in to this play tonight to see what the controversy was about. It has been called blasphemous - I do not believe that," he commented.
Many members of the public who turned out admitted it was the ban that had influenced them to come.
"We probably ordinarily would not have come but there was too much publicity and we did not want the council to be our moral guardians and we would make the choice to come ourselves and make our own decision based on that," one theatregoer told UTV.
Another simply said: "I am not going to be dictated as to what I can and cannot see."
Initial reviews were positive, with those leaving after the final curtain describing the play as "a good night's entertainment" and that it was "done in the best possible taste".
The Reduced Shakespeare Company play is also sold out on Thursday evening, its final date in Newtownabbey.
© UTV News