"Everyman" has been around for over 600 years, a morality tale written to remind congregations that their time on earth is short and that they will be called by God to reckon their deeds after their death. Though it is shown that God loves man and will be merciful, the journey from life to death is one where Everyman meets his own failings and the consequences of his decisions and seeks to offset the judgement first through material show but finally through contrition.
Carol Anne Duffy's adaptation is an Everyman for the modern world yet with its feet firmly in the play's traditions. Clever, but after all is said and done, human nature hasn't actually changed that much and we still need reminding that our lives are short and, in the end, even if not judged by God we will in our last moments look back and judge ourselves as we are judged by our family, friends and peers.
That all sounds pretty bleak but actually this is a beautifully written play and Miracle Theatre's amazing production is a truly joyous affair. The show is played in the round in "The Fleapit", a temporary structure, a sort of poor man's spiegeltent, which is a delight in itself and which sits within the Core building at the Eden Project. Walking through the Eden Project to, and especially from (in the dark) the show helps set the scene as one of Everyman's "sins" is that of trashing the earth. It was hard at times to remember that this was a cast of only four as they worked so incredibly hard to bring the story to life.
Dean Rehman's Everyman starts as a sad, over indulgent loser who thinks that the world owes him. When first confronted by the delicious Death of Giles King, he becomes frightened, then arrogant and finally contrite - a well crafted journey which carries us along. Charlotte Merriam's God (and other characters) surprise and delight with Laura Cairns providing some excellently pointed characters - the two playing Avarice and Greed (Consumerism in this version) were brilliant. Strong team playing throughout and a hell of a pace set by director Kyla Goodey keep us engrossed throughout.
I have to say, the production hit me with two really strong emotions. Firstly, I grinned throughout as this is real theatre, raw in its power yet professional in its production. Clever, witty and utterly engaging. Secondly, the doubts that the play was originally set to stir up came to the fore; have I really done more good than harm? Am I profligate in my use of the earth, or my family or friends? Can I make some, perhaps small, changes to the way I live my life to even the balance of my own reckoning a bit? Will I make those changes??
My reckoning on the play? Brilliant. My reckoning on myself ...