Guest reviewer: Hugh Simpson
A Space to Bless, a series of meditations from Queen Jesus Productions filmed in St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral, provides much-needed balm for the soul.
Jo Clifford’s portrayal of Jesus as a trans woman has been around for a while now, and doubtless many people have formed an opinion on the characterisation (in many cases without ever seeing it).
While the original production (★★★★★ Sublime) remains essential – both theatrically and emotionally – this latest iteration is something different. It comprises a series of shorter pieces originally screened live from St Mary’s from 12 to 16 April and available to view until 26 April.
These ‘blessings’ (each around ten minutes long) are intended to provide ‘a gathering, a text, space for meditation and a blessing’, and can easily be viewed in isolation, although taken together the ritualistic repetition of themes and concerns does gain in power.
Both extremely topical and utterly timeless, the concerns about the pandemic, abuse of power, growing inequality, and climate change add layers to the urgency of the original portrayal. While there is a gnawing sense of despair, and an almost end-of-days feeling about some of it, this is leavened by definite shards of hope.
The most surprising thing is how little anger there is. Instead, there is an air of forgiveness and inclusiveness that is quite astonishing.
This is entirely fitting for the tradition these blessings draw upon. It is enhanced considerably by the form this takes; it is rarely the case that something filmed is so intimate. Stuart Platt’s filming of the live performance has a lot to do with this, and Susan Worsfold’s direction and design are as accomplished as ever.
It should not be necessary to say at this stage, but probably bears repeating – this is not any kind of gimmick or shock tactic, but comes from a deeply-felt spiritual perspective that is welcoming whatever you happen to believe in.
While this cannot compare to the power of the full-length appearance of Queen Jesus, it is just as important in the current climate.
The ticket also enables the viewer to watch the version of the original play filmed at Augustine Reformed Church in December 2020.
Total running time 55 minutes. Each individual film is between 10 and 12 minutes.
Available until Monday 26 April 2021
Tickets are available on a pay-what-you-can basis from www.queenjesusproductions.com
Review of 2018 production of The Gospel According to Jesus Queen of Heaven: ★★★★★ Sublime.