Martyr at Bristol Old Vic


Due to an unexpected bridge closure, we arrived running to our Bristol Old Vic seats as the first of the scripted text was spoken.

This incredibly complex play took me by surprise. Complex, not in its delivery but in the messages being projected.

Martyr takes place on stage with all participants, props and scenes visible at all times. This sounds messy but it worked beautifully. A very creative mind designed this imagery.

The script was incredibly deep and the passions of the characters shone through with it. Despite the darkness and the recited bible text, it still managed to be incredibly funny in lots of ways.

Martyr is a story of a boy lost finding an Old Testament God and immersing himself within it. He then preaches his God to everyone, provokes adulation from a fellow pupil, frustration from his worrying mother, too much empathy from his politically incorrect headmaster and a need to understand from his diligent teacher.

We go on a journey with Benjamin as he becomes more opinionated and shocking in acting out the messages of the Old Testament: telling women they should be down at heel, while homosexuals should be stoned to death…leading us to a shocking end that left me, barely, stopping myself from shouting out.

I loved this play for its darkness, its humour, its talented cast and how it shocked me but, most of all, for showing me how easy it is to dismiss the fundamental thinking around you.

Martyr shows at Bristol Old Vic until 12th September

  • Review by Catriona Daynes

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