Poor lad. He had it all. Loadsamoney and much else besides. Women too. So much for all that, when Death came for a visit.
The morality play that is Everyman has been with us for over 600 years, recasting itself to every new generation sometimes simply through its staging and sometimes more fundamentally through a reinterpretation. Carol Ann Duffy’s 2015 adaptation is taut with disquiet and laced with unsettling references to our generation’s louche, destructive underbelly. The Sixth Form cast (plus Everyboy!) did extraordinary justice to her message in a performance that was mesmerising, witty, abrasive, and electric in its energy and capacity to shock – like a static jolt when one least expects it which almost hurts, yet leaves one cautiously excited for the next. I don’t relish an encounter with Death such as this (the reckoning would not go so well, for one thing): all Cockney-mocking swagger, with a grim certainty to her every action that the Kray’s might have been pleased to employ. No wonder Everyman, brilliantly tortured, by himself as much as by her, wheeled to no avail in search of respite. God’s resigned despair seemed all the more depressing as a result: helpless in the abject failure of her glorious project – save for her ability to call in Death to make amends. Family and knowledge, goods and deeds, friends and fairweather came and went, leaving Everyman to his fate, and the audience to its thoughts: we should do better, be better, check our account for a little more on the credit side, and look well beyond our own tiny horizons. How timely. Frighteningly so.
Brilliant – in performance, in staging, and in direction. My congratulations to cast and crew on a stunningly compelling hour’s entertainment (such a lighthearted word for something so powerful). The images, and the message, will live with me for quite a while.