by Peter Barnes
The KING'S HEAD Theatre 9th JULY - 1st AUGUST 2015
The King's Head Theatre
115 Upper Street
7pm 9th July - 1st August
“You'd go a long way to find a play of such vigour, daring, erudition and sheer salacious bravura”
“sharply satirical, weirdly fascinating”
“anarchic, riotously funny...more relevant now than when the play was written in the late '60s”
A Younger Theatre
“ an inventive, explosive and bold play”
“ a singular intensity and rancid energy to both the writing and performances”
‘What a pong. It must be the odour of sanctity.’
The tragic and the ridiculous crash into each other ungraciously in this rare revival of Peter Barnes’ 1969 anarchic black comedy Noonday Demons; an exhilarating and surreal romp into the follies of fanaticism at the Kings Head Theatre.
St Eusebius is living as a hermit in the Egyptian desert, alone but for a tower of his own excrement, and the maggots that live in his festering flesh. With nothing to do but self-flagellate, he is quite content surviving on black olives, water and a whole lot of self-righteousness. Until a second hermit arrives with an order from God to evict Eusebius from the desert. And so begins a contest - staged as a bizarre wrestling-match - as to who is the holiest.
Witty and rude, Noonday Demons explores zealotry and extreme violence performed in the name of God – themes all too frighteningly familiar in today’s world. Slapstick and music-hall ventriloquism, crude jokes, levitation, the rhetoric of religious fervour, a pile of human shit and a great deal of fighting, are thrown together to create a comedy which demands to be taken seriously.
Peter Barnes was one of the UK’s most adventurous and maverick playwrights. A recipient of countless awards, his bold and audacious works made him one of the most technically surprising dramatists of his generation. His many plays include the hugely successful The Ruling Class which was made into a film starring Peter O’Toole, other writing for stage includes The Bewitched, Jubilee, The Candlemaker, Laughter, Red Noses (which won an Olivier Award for Best Play), Sunset and Glories, Lunar Park Eclipsis and Corpsing. He was also a prolific screenwriter in his later years with credits for film and television including Merlin, Arabian Nights, Moon and the Stars and Easy Virtue.