Lot and His God

Citizens Theatre, Glasgow

Neil Cooper

Four stars

It's hard to gauge exactly who's turned on the most in Howard Barker's erotically-charged reimagining of the Bible's Old Testament myth set in the last days of Sodom. It might well be Daniel Cahill's horny angel, here named Drogheda and sent down by God to save Lot and his wife from the destruction that's about to wipe out the original Sin City. Or it could be Lot's wife Sverdlosk, played by Pauline Knowles as a faithless drop-dead femme fatale, resembling the shoe-hoarding wife of a deposed dictator on the run,who gets her kicks by defying Drogheda's celestial intervention.

Cliff Burnett's Lot, meanwhile, works himself into a lather over even the idea of Sverdlosk and Drogheda embarking on a last-gasp pre-apocalyptic liaison. It might also be worth keeping an eye on Ewan Somers' silently disdainful waiter who clearly has ideas above his station.

Debbie Hannan's production of Barker's late period chamber piece sets out its store in a decrepit café where anything civilised has been jettisoned to the dustbin of history, and only the sacred profanities of language remain. As delivered by Hannan's cast in the Citz's stripped back Circle Studio space, a near declamatory relishing of Barker's poetry makes for an electric set of power games to witness.

Seen only once before on a British stage, Barker's play forms part of the Up Close season of work to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the long lost Close Theatre. With a libertine morality at play, rather than Sverdlosk looking back at the decadent world where she thrived, in Barker's version, at least, it is God who is left behind and rendered speechless.