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Review: Emperor and Galilean

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After the first English performance of Ibsen's epic - pared down in Ben Power's translation to a piffling three-and-a-half hours -– the arguments against staging this play seem a lot more obvious than those in favour. Jonathan Kent's huge production uses 50 performers to tell a relatively small story.

Its flawed hero is Julian (Andrew Scott), a charismatic Christian whose proselytising talents are eventually harnessed by Ian McDiarmid's spooky shaman and used to utterly destructive ends.

As Roman Emperor, Julian abolishes Christianity and revives paganism, torturing his closest friends on the way. The absurdity of faith is the not particularly revelatory lesson. It is also a rather easy target. Kent's ambitious production, with its awe-inspiring projections and stage craft, is more than the story deserves.

During one of the few pauses in a breathless evening of war and agony, the thought occurred that theatre used to struggle to find right-wing plays. Isn't it time we had a pro-religion play?

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