Edinburgh Fringe 2015
The warm generosity of performer Jo Clifford and her sermon of love and peace are a welcome Sunday morning respite after a month of Fringe debauchery.
“Start your day with a blessing”, Jesus tells the worshipers assembled in Summerhall’s Anatomy Lecture Theatre. And we do. We hold hands, we break bread and drink wine (or juice if you prefer this early on a Sunday morning) and we pray.
The premise of this piece of theatre is simple but very effective. Jesus is a trans woman, and she shares her teachings of tolerance and forgiveness. The story of the prodigal son is reframed to be the son who became a daughter. We are told about the high esteem other cultures have for transgender individuals. The message is clear. Rather than hatred and intolerance, we should actually live by the values Jesus Christ espoused, particularly when it comes to attitudes towards sex and gender – love, tolerance, humility, acceptance. He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
Jo Clifford is charismatic and engaging. She speaks gently, often addressing individuals directly or coming to sit in the audience with us. It may seem presumptuous to cast oneself as Jesus Christ, and predictably there were protests when this was first performed by people who had not seen the show or read the script, but it would be very difficult to be offended by this beautiful piece when actually watching it. Unfortunately, those who need to see it most are the same people who will protest without knowing the content and who will never attend a performance.
Despite the fact that Clifford is preaching to the converted, there is still something wonderful to be gained for all of us from this sermon. The Fringe may be over but please catch this show elsewhere if you can.