What’s it all about?
Temple is a fictional tale. It focuses on the inner turmoil of the Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral during the Occupy protests outside the iconic London building when it was forced to close its doors for health and safety reasons in 2011.
But Temple, as you can gather, is also inspired by true events, and so this Dean, we presume, is the Right Rev Graeme Knowles, who resigned as a result of the pressures he faced during the protesters’ presence.
Should he side with Occupy and its beliefs or support the City of London Corporation in its battle to evict them?
This is the quandary at the centre of Steve Waters’ play. Charting the Dean’s personal conflict, the actions of the Canon Chancellor and the comic behaviour of a new member of staff, Temple imagines the conversations that took place in the hours leading up to the reopening of the building.
Who’s in it?
Three-time Olivier Award winner Simon Russell Beale asserts an incredible presence on the Donmar Warehouse’s stage as the Dean. His speech, initially poetic and considered, fills with anxiety and anger as he struggles with the insurmountable decision before him.
Paul Higgins lends excellent support as the Canon Chancellor who resigns on Twitter alongside Malcolm Sinclair as the sympathetic Bishop of London.
Then there’s Rebecca Humphries, who provides much-needed comic relief as a hilariously flustered and amusingly awkward PA on her first day at the Chapter House.
What should I look out for?
Laugh-out-loud moments involving numerous ringtones, a couple of seriously awkward man hugs and Tim Hatley’s imposing design that sees one of the capital’s most striking buildings replicated outside the Chapter House’s windows.
In a nutshell?
Simon Russell Beale gives another Olivier Award worthy performance in this fascinating look behind the closed doors of St Paul’s Cathedral during the 2011 Occupy protests.
What’s being said on Twitter?
“I was happy on the Isle of Man” great performance from Simon Russell Beale in Temple at #Donmar tonight
— Clare Thorp (@clarethorp) May 25, 2015
v interesting, challenging play Temple opened at the Donmar this eve. Simon Russell Beale tremendous as ever.
— zb (@mitfordian) May 27, 2015
Will I like it?
Anyone intrigued by historic decisions made behind the scenes will no doubt delight in this latest offering from the Donmar Warehouse. We’ve witnessed the imagined conversations between David Cameron, David Beckham and Prince William on the eve of the 2018 World Cup bid in The Three Lions. We’ve entered Buckingham Palace to observe the secret meetings between the Queen and her succession of Prime Ministers in The Audience. And now we have Temple, presented in a pitch perfect production by Howard Davies, which provides an intriguing look at the Chapter’s handling of the 2011 Occupy protests. It may be several years since the events took place, but Waters’ intriguing play offers a unique opportunity to see what it might have been like for the parties involved.
Temple is playing at the Donmar Warehouse until 25 July. You can buy tickets through the venue’s website.