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The Times, 14/10/11



The other highlight was Colm Tóibín’s 70-minute monologue Testament at the Project Arts Centre. Its publicity is curiously coy about the identity of its “iconic” protagonist. It turns out she could scarcely be more iconic, since she is — spoiler alert — Jesus’s mother, Mary. And if Garry Hynes’s artful production takes itself pretty seriously, the silver-haired Marie Mullen’s inflamed, urgent delivery earns it that right.
This is remarkable acting. And Tóibín’s script is a daring, detailed act of empathy that treats Mary as a real person, not an icon, a grieving mother who finds the idea propagated by his disciples that her boy “died for all of our sins” to be a deranged abstraction. She explains the grisly details of crucifixion — you die quicker, she says, if they break your legs while you’re up there — and expresses her guilt that she had the presence of mind to consider her own safety as her son was dying. There is plenty for the religious and the irreligious alike to feed on in this evocative, provocative show. Let’s hope that, whatever the economy, whoever the sponsor, next year’s festival brings more such stimulation.