Atheist and priest: a new play on the life of Fr Jean Meslier
Lovers of intellectual thought and religious dissention are gathering at The King’s Head Theatre in Islington.
The Last Priest, a new play by David Walter Hall, focuses on the life of Father Jean Meslier, a little-known 17th century French Catholic priest who wrote a bitter atheistic testament at the end of his life after serving his parish well for 40 years. It was only after his death when the manuscript was discovered that the utter contradiction of his life as a Catholic priest was revealed. Not only did he denounce all religion, he argued the superiority of atheist morality.
The play is a vivid and thought-provoking realisation of Meslier’s socialism and atheistic beliefs played out through discussions with his closest friends and juxtaposed by dream-like discussions with Voltaire, who in his time had praised Meslier as a hero of the Enlightenment.
Julian Bird as Meslier delivers a passionate and absorbing performance, strongly supported by Angela Koo and Maxwell Hutcheson, who both bring vigour and warmth to their roles.
The performances are accompanied by cellist Deborah Chandler and the team deserve a mention for the atmospheric design of the production in this cosy theatre.