Our Christian Nation

This American satire is thematically terrifying, but misguided in its stylistic choices

★★
theatre review | Read in About 2 minutes
31175_large
Our Christian Nation
Published 09 Aug 2017

What will America look like if Trump gets his way on all of his proposed policies? Playwright Joe Janes looks to a near future where hard right Christianity has reclaimed the US. Foetuses have lawyers, homosexuality is illegal and parents homeschool their children. There's no welfare safety net, brown people or gun safety laws.

It takes some time for Janes' script to find a clear storyline, and both the start and the end of the show is messy. The middle focuses on God-fearing Mitch, who looses his job and finds out his wife Louise is pregnant on the same day. Mitch's faith begins to waver, and desperation leads them on a madcap adventure in an attempt to escape debtor's prison.

Satirical throughout, the heightened performances are akin to those on Saturday Night Live. This style works in sketches, but in a lengthy show it quickly becomes repetitive and superficial. Some of the more absurd characters that turn up don't serve the story at all. Most of the content and references are known to British audiences, but some is too specific, like when the Koch brothers appear. They are referred to by their first names and British ignorance of the pair undercuts the power of the final scene.

Our Christian Nation paints a terrifying, dystopian world that no longer feels as impossible as it should. The play has good intentions, but the broad, American satire doesn't work for a lengthy story and hasn't been suitably adapted for British audiences.