Set in London in 2020, Christianity has been outlawed by the government, under Human Rights legislation. Police patrol the streets, in search of Christians, and the state-run media keeps reminding the citizens at the end of its news broadcasts to stay vigilant. A priest, who has been hiding from the authorities for the past year, comes into contact with a former soldier, John Alban. The priest is soon in need of a hideaway and, although initially reluctant, the non-Christian soldier allows him to stay in his home. Over time, they develop a strong friendship, with Alban’s interest in Christianity, and his search for something deeper, growing by the day.
In the end, the authorities discover that the priest has been hiding in Alban’s house and they come to arrest him. However, Alban dresses up as the priest and allows himself to be arrested, giving the opportunity for the real priest to escape. Alban is found guilty of a number of crimes against the state and is executed.
Before sitting down for the performance, I really didn’t know what to expect – and I think this served me well, as I came in with an open mind. What I discovered was that Soldier to Saint is an excellent story, well-acted and scripted. With a near-capacity audience, the three actors of the production made us laugh, cry, reflect and applause.
Their ability to connect with the audience is testament not only to the subject material, but importantly to their ability to connect with those of us watching, and making us care about the lives of the characters.
At the end of the show, one of the cast invited us to spend a little bit of time to reflect on what we’d just watched. He invoked St Catherine of Siena and encouraged us to realise our full potential and allow God to work in us to accomplish this; as St Catherine of Siena once said, “When you are who you are meant to be, you will set the world ablaze”. The lights were turned off and two of the cast lit a number of candles on stage. At the same time, the other cast member gently started to play the guitar and sing. It was a beautiful moment – and something that doesn’t normally happen at theatre.
I would definitely recommend everyone reading this to go to this performance. This year, RISE Theatre is on a national tour; so do try to check it out if you have the chance!
It’s also kindled my interest in learning more about St Alban. As was mentioned yesterday, even after 1,700 years he still intrigues us. And with groups like RISE around, I can imagine we won’t be forgetting about him any time soon!