Light Shining in Buckinghamshire

Paradise delayed
Belvoir St Theatre
by
ABR Arts 20 April 2022

Light Shining in Buckinghamshire

Paradise delayed
Belvoir St Theatre
by
ABR Arts 20 April 2022
Production image from Light Shining in Buckinghamshire (Teniola Komolafe/Belvoir St Theatre)
Production image from Light Shining in Buckinghamshire (Teniola Komolafe/Belvoir St Theatre)

Caryl Churchill’s Light Shining in Buckinghamshire, first performed in 1976, is a dense and difficult play set during the English Civil War. The period may be distant in time but Churchill, working in a broadly Marxist tradition, sees it as an era when fundamental questions of governance were tested by a mass of ordinary people. From whom does the state derive authority, and is a person bound to obey laws they find unjust? Does the existence of private property – those enclosed lands cultivated for the profit of a few – offend against the common good? Do the rich offend God? ‘For a short time when the king had been defeated anything seemed possible,’ Churchill wrote in a 1978 introductory note. The possibilities included, for some, Christ’s return and with it the instigation of an earthly Paradise.

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