Conversations about religion and sex always cause much debate. Quite often the concept of desire is viewed as taboo when preached in religious circles. Galatians 5 versus 16 states “So I say, walk by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desire of the flesh.”
Last weekend, at the Daphne Joseph Hackett Theatre in Queen’s Park, veteran actresses Cecily Spencer-Cross and Sadé Leon Slinger-Folkes tackled the struggles between faith and desire in the premiere of God Is My Man but. . .
The month-long theatrical production by Fola Productions was written by Ian Walcott-Skinner and directed by Thom Cross. It told the story of two women in their sixties – Mary, the devoted Christian performed by Slinger-Folkes and the free-spirited returning national Alia, acted by Spencer-Cross.
The leading ladies executed the production with ease, emotionally triggering the audience when they recounted their tragic life experiences. A lover of life, Alia did not bind herself to religion. She remained jovial and full of laughter through the two-hour production except when her façade broke and she showed her weakness and the past which haunted her. The sudden death of her two grandchildren in a car accident jolted the audience, especially as she wept about her guilt at being the only survivor.
Mary’s obsession with her faith and being deemed as ‘holy’ consumed her life but she was actually a walking contradiction – a Christian who guiltily engages in sexual pleasure. Mary becomes a representation of the hypocrisy in the church, those that constantly seek forgiveness and use their faith to mask their infidelities. She follows this ideal that to be considered a good Christian woman one must be married and in the beginning of the play she lies that she has been married thrice. As Slinger-Folkes recounted her first sexual experience – rape at the age of 13 – she captivated the audience with her stellar acting.
The play explored topical women’s issues such as breast cancer, abuse and the difficulties of aging. But one theme which was prominent was the importance of friendship. Although the characters recently met each other, they became fast friends.
Despite the solid acting and stage production, the topic of faith and desire was not fully explored. Mary showed no character development, Alia’s decision to attend church felt sudden, and the ending was anti-climactic. The message of the play seemed to be that ‘God is my man but . . . I will continue to live my life as I please.’
Executive co-producer of Fola Productions, Sadé Leon Slinger-Folkes told Bajan Vibes “the play brings comfort to the troubled, and it troubles the comforted”.
Slinger-Folkes was pleased with the attendance and the reception of the production which will run for the month of October.
“I find the audience… is with you, they travel the journey of [the] two of us.” (KK)