Picture the weirdest thing you’ve ever seen, and then lace that memory with every psychedelic drug you can think of, now you might be close to the territory Ram of God is operating in.
Welcome to the milk-based religion centred around ‘Ram’; a human-ram hybrid complete with two horns, six breasts, and explicit male genitals we see doing all sorts of things. Ram’s been contacted by God to save as much of humanity as he can before the (2028) apocalypse by using milk as a lubricant to escape sin.
Life is simple in the community that Ram has established for his followers, all of whom are women. Hedonism seems to rule the day, and seizing pleasure is one of the only rules – the apocalypse just eight years away so this makes sense. Yet, women are also instructed to eschew revealing clothing, make-up, and shampoo – they are not allowed to groom themselves apart from shaving their pubic hair.
Every single character in this piece is played by creator Theodora van der Beek. We see her as Ram himself, delivering sermons and throwing milk over his followers in distinctly pornographic fashion. We hear her as a documentary-style narrator explaining the benefits of the ‘Church of Ram’ before advertising a phone number to get involved. She portrays Ram’s followers praying to him daily, guzzling milk, and frolicking in the garden of the house they all live in. Each different role is spliced together in a series of quick cuts to create the impression of all being on screen at once. It could look ridiculous; it doesn’t, it is almost hypnotic when we witness the women begin to shave the hair of another woman who refuses Ram’s rules, all played by the same actor. This is a great example of how to embrace the challenges of combining theatre and film.
If this is starting to sound like a cult, then that’s because it is. The first few minutes of Ram of God can seem confusing. This is partly due its unique editing style, but mostly because it’s bonkers. However, Ram’s legend starts to disintegrate, and the real story of this cult becomes clear.
This is a joyful takedown of patriarchy and the ways that society values men and women. Ram is a fantastic cypher for sexism, flawed masculinity, and gaslighting. We watch him perform his exploitation (sorry, milk-based miracles) over women all played by van der Beek, which adds a wonderful irony to show as a whole, and raises further questions over our relationships with gender.
This piece is also wickedly funny. Ram’s genius costume is straight out of an eccentric seventies horror flick, and the chants and prayers that soundtrack the piece are hilarious contrasting spectacularly with the serious subject matter.
Ram of God has been made with the help of Soho Theatre, but it’s clear that the content, atmosphere, and lunacy of the show have been driven by one forceful mind. Van der Beek has put in an incredible amount of work to make something that everyone should watch. It doesn’t necessarily say anything revolutionary, but the way Ram of God presents its view of the world is wholly singular and utterly deserving of attention. Praise be not to Ram, but instead to Ram of God’s brilliant creator.
Ram of God is streaming on the Brighton Fringe website until 31 October. For more information and tickets, see Brighton Fringe’s website.