Inigo is a new play by Jonathan Moore about faith, family, friendship and rebellion: it follows Inigo de Loyola as he goes from an ambitious pleasure-seeker with a quick temper, to a servant of God, ending up as a co-founder of the Society of Jesus. When Inigo decides to go on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, he is disowned by his brothers for bringing shame on their noble name; as a barefooted, nameless pilgrim, he meets a variety of characters who help him to examine and explore his faith in more detail – as well as those who would silence him. Inigo’s resilience to oppression is admirable, and works well as an allegory for anyone who faces severe oppression from any establishment. Although Inigo communes directly with God more than once during the play, there are no attempts made to portray God – this decision, probably a wise one, does however mean that all of the audience’s attention is often focused on Inigo alone, only able to hear one side of a conversation. Fayez Baksh rises to this challenge, and some of the most powerful scenes in the whole play are those in which he is alone on stage, wrestling with himself and his faith.
As a new play set in the sixteenth century, the language is sometimes jarring, when Moore has used a modern word or phrase which feels distinctly out of place – for the most part, though, the text feels natural, although the actors on occasion struggled with some Spanish words and names. Although this is definitely a funny play, the jokes manage to avoid coming across as satirical or mocking – a rare achievement for such a politically-charged play – and, although they are used often to alleviate some of the more serious scenes, the gravity of the subject matter is never undercut by comedy for comedy’s sake. Although many of the scenes are short, with quick changes, this lends the play power – we are only given what we need, as though the story is as stripped down as possible without detracting anything.
All of the actors, except Baksh himself, played multiple roles – mostly this was handled well, but it was sometimes difficult to tell whether we were being introduced to a new character or seeing an old one again. The choreography, by Sian Williams, and the combat sequences, by Bret Yount, were managed excellently – on such a small stage, so close to the audience, there were many opportunities for mishap in the fighting and dancing scenes, but they were all perfectly executed. This was a performance which tried hard to capture the realities of life in the sixteenth century, not shying away from violent fighting scenes or raucous parties, and instead faithfully showing us the true extent of Inigo’s persecution. This play manages to be a multitude of things: historically accurate, comic and thought-provoking, while still incredibly relevant to us today.
- By Jonathan Moore
- Directed by Jonathan Moore
- Cast includes: Fayez Baksh, Timothy Block, Tom Durant-Pritchard, Matthew Howell, Tom Kay, Elle van Knoll, Paul Lyons, Hilary Tones
- White Bear Theatre, London
- Until 28th February 2015
- Time: 19:30
- Review by Nicola Watkinson
- 6 January 2015