Review: Restoration comedy laughs in The Beaux' Stratagem, National Theatre
Fringe review: Gender swapping and ginger beards in Taming of the Shrew, New Wimbledon Theatre Studio

Review: Simon Russell Beale in Temple, Donmar Warehouse


Simon Russell Beale is staring out a window. You can see St Paul's Cathedral looming large and hear the rhythmic beat of drums outside punctuated by the occasional roar of a crowd cheering and snatches of song. 

It is Autumn 2011 and Occupy London, having been prevented from protesting outside the stock exchange have instead set up camp outside St Paul's. The cathedral has be closed because of protest and is losing thousands of pounds a day in essential tourist revenue.

In Steve Water's new play at the Donmar he takes a fictional look at what was going on behind the scenes at St Paul's at this unprecedented time in the Cathedral's history - its doors had been kept open during the Blitz, floods and terrorist threats.

SRB is the Dean of the Cathedral and faced with a difficult decision. He is under pressure from the City of London to co-operate with an injunction to get the protestors evicted. He is under pressure from within the chapter of the Cathedral some of whom question what the church's role should be in such situation's: a church of the high finance or a church of the common man. And he is under pressure from the Bishop of London to make the right decision and minimise the damage to the Cathedral and church's reputation.

The Dean's crisis is three-fold: conscience, faith and leadership and naturally SRB portrays the conflict beautifully. His is a complex emotional journey, his stubbornness frustrating, his reasoning understandable and the dilemma agonising.

Water's is an erudite script with some amusingly dry lines for SRB but in the end it feels like it short changes the issues being explored. The Dean represents deeper questions about capitalism and social inequality but the play doesn't add much that is new to the debate.

Temple is interesting enough but I doubt it will be one I remember much about in the months to come. It's 90 minutes long without an interval and runs until 25 July.


Anna Caldwell-Marshall plays the verger in this but was also in The Herd which was written by Rory Kinnear (and soon to be seen in The Trial at the Young Vic) RK has of course worked with Mr W on numerous occasions: Hamlet, Richard II, Skyfall...