God on Trial is a visceral and punishing piece of theatre. It’s less of a coherent narrative and more of a philosophical debate, one that follows Jews in Auschwitz putting forward questions that we all sadly know were never answered.
Chronicling the harrowing tale of captured prisoners who decide to put God in the dock and debate whether he has forsaken His covenant with His people, the C nova space of God on Trial is unnervingly evocative. A sparse sweatbox of a stage is surrounded on three sides by a closely seated audience. Staring straight ahead into the action it’s hard not to catch someone else’s eye looking in across from you, tough not to reflect that. though the story may be false, the human suffering portrayed was all too real.
With a minimal set and no music, the actors carry the piece with aplomb. Justin Blanchard as Mordechai is a standout; a man who goes against his father, a fellow prisoner, through debating that there is no God. Everyone, though, pulls their weight in this single-scene production; arguments for and against rise and fall in compelling waves with the examination of causes thorough through the well-measured legal setting.
In spite of slightly dubious accents at times and a heavy reliance on shouting, God on Trial is engaging throughout. The writing is clever and reasonable without ever leaping too strongly to one side of the process. With a sense of tension slowly boiling throughout, the final scenes in which certain character meet their fate is near unbearable, with their final shuffle between the tightened C nova crowds a painful and powerful conclusion.
Whilst God on Trial is certainly a difficult piece, one that only offers more questions, it’s resolutely performed and delivered with real conviction.
God on Trial is at C Nova (Venue 145) until 23 August. For more information and tickets visit the Edinburgh Fringe website.