As a writer, it’s impossible not to find T.S. Elliot’s writing a beautiful thing; but performing it on stage is another matter. Murder In The Cathedral in particular is difficult, deeply poetic, littered with hidden and double-meaning and talking about difficult subjects… death, martyrdom, religion, the nature of life and the universe… not an easy subject matter.
It would make a terrible film – its narrative is something that would not (or indeed has not) translated that well to screen. The heavy text and even heavier subtext, makes it difficult to understand and follow – but the rhythmic use of speech and the simple fact that the locations we perform in are cathedrals… make it beautiful, haunting and something you’ll never see the like of again, I suspect.
It’s a performance piece and an absolute joy to be a part of as an actor. I play the 3rd Tempter – 1 of 4, brought out of Thomas becket’s subconscious to tempt him with various offers – each reflecting an area of his self-doubt and Earthly desire. I also play a knight called Sir William Di Traci who was in fact one of the four historical characters that (Spoiler alert, albeit the clue is in the title) actually kill Beckett, then attempt to make all kinds of very modern sounding excuses as to why it was the best thing for everyone.
We are performing the play in Southwark, Guildford and Oxford (on the way there in an hour) over the next week, so please feel free to come along and watch.
In the meantime, I’ll attempt to make my writing something, Like Eliot’s, that people still read in a hundred years.