A seemingly typical boardroom situated in an imagined Corporate Heaven is swept ceremoniously by the enigmatic Caretaker as the audience take their seats at NUI Galway’s Bank of Ireland Theatre. Some striking features of the clever set such as an infinity clock give a taster of the tongue-in-cheek humour to follow.
The Monday B.C. is the brainchild of NUI Galway student Shane Gaffney. It charts the pressure, tension and frustration endured by three prophets: Moses, Isaiah and Ezekiel, as they compose the crucial ‘Prophet Pitch’ to boost God’s believer tally in the face of the expanding Roman Gods. Under the stern surveillance of the psychotic Arch-Angel Gabrielle, the trio face an ultimatum: succeed and remain in so-called eternal paradise, or be cast down by ‘The Big Guy’ himself.
A combination of Gaffney’s superb characterisation, Denis Haugh’s creative direction, and the cast’s boundless energy and focus secured the acting as the stand-out element of this production. The self-importance of Moses captured by the commanding Phil Trill, teamed with the constantly hilarious naivety of the lively Davin McGowan in the role of Ezekiel made for a satisfying duo. This was contrasted by the scarily convincing cocaine addict, Isaiah, played by Cillian Browne, who erraticism never wavered throughout.
Kevin Murphy’s portrayal of the increasingly profound Caretaker was spot-on, and it was difficult to see him as anything less than centuries old. The first highlight came with the entrance of the inherently enraged Fiona Buckley as Gabrielle, who commanded attention in her white-winged blazer with her hilarious vein-busting rants.
There were moments when the energy of the actors hampered their speech and the odd line was lost due to poor diction and rushed delivery. Despite some inconsistency with accents now and again, all portrayals were highly accomplished, both individually and as a group.
Several specific moments showed the prowess of director Denis Haugh; namely the musically accompanied montage of sorts as the three prophets frantically clambered through files and charts in the hope of some divine inspiration for the ‘Prophet Pitch’. The boardroom, where the majority of the action took place, was utilised effectively and movements were natural and purposeful.
At times hidden clues to the story were made more obvious than necessary reducing their impact upon their reveal. While the atmosphere on stage developed throughout, there was a repetition of the same conflicts amongst some characters which slightly took away from the climax.
The unique concept of The Monday B.C. will forever be its selling point. Gaffney’s writing vividly evokes a Heaven which is so atypical to the common perception it’s convincing. Without going down the previously-treaded route of bashing the Church, Gaffney’s play challenges the concepts of religion, faith and eternity in a more thought-provoking way. Modern issues of racism and misogyny are also raised in a satirical manner, cementing the play’s relevance today. While the story seemed a little muddled in parts, it always found its footing again. Lathered with gags and jibes throughout, it was the tongue-in-cheek zingers that provoked the greatest laughs – “God, I hate Mondays”, sighs Ezekiel.
With a hefty helping of Biblical references, The Monday B.C. requires a decent knowledge of The Old Testament for it to make sense. Visually fun in terms of lighting, costumes and set; the play held the audience’s attention until the end. Aside from some minor issues, the acting shone in this production. A standing ovation sealed the fates of this cast and crew. Hallelujah.