As the guardians of all that is right in society

The councillors of Newtownabbey in Northern Ireland must have been suffering from Censorship Envy.

The decision by Newtownabbey’s Democratic Unionist council to stop two performances of The Bible: The Complete Word of God (Abridged) was met with outrage from freedom of expression campaigners.

The show, first seen in 1995, was to have been performed over two nights at the Theatre at the Mill in the town next week, with about 150 of the 800 seats available sold.

Fraser Agnew, the mayor of Newtownabbey council, said: “As the guardians of all that is right in society we have got to take a stand somewhere.”

The productions were part of a three-month UK tour by the Reduced Shakespeare Company, which has put on a series of successful productions in London’s West End and around the country.

Town councillors are the guardians of all that is right in society? Since when? I thought they were the elected officials charged with managing their city. Fraser Agnew seems to have confused that job with Plato’s Guardians, who are a rather different kettle of poisson.

The show’s publicity calls it an “affectionate, irreverent roller-coaster ride from fig leaves to Final Judgment as the boys tackle the great theological questions: Did Adam and Eve have navels? Did Moses really look like Charlton Heston?”

Sinn Fein councillor Gerry O’Reilly said: “This is clearly an example of certain councillors forcing their religious views on to everyone else.”

Why yes, yes it is. Sinn Fein might possibly be considered an example of the same thing, but whatever.

H/t Shatterface



  1. Shatterface says

    BBC 2 did a Dave Allen night a few weeks back and I’d forgotten the IRA threatened his life for sending up the Catholic Church. This might be a change of direction for Irish republicans or it just might be that unionists got their complaint in first and the republicans felt obliged to stand against them.

  2. Katherine Woo says

    Admittedly I am basing this comment on one modern Irish history class from over a decade ago, but my understanding was that Irish republicans became largely left in the 1960’s as part of that whole left terrorism Renaissance (you know like the Weather Underground, Patty Hearst).

    They wanted unification, but not on the quasi-theocratic terms of the Republic. I just looked up and Sinn Fein supports marriage equality so they are certainly defying one of Catholicism’s pet prejudices.

  3. exi5tentialist says

    Isn’t this a fundamental problem with any subsidized art form? Who pays the piper calls the tune.

  4. Enzyme says

    Strange, isn’t it? Strange that, were I to try to ban something on the grounds that it upset me, the proper reaction would be that that’s just too bad.

    But were I to try to ban something on the grounds that I hypothesise that it might upset an entity who almost certainly doesn’t exist, then that’s compelling.


  5. Pieter B, FCD says

    I’ve seen the RSC do the complete works of Shakespeare in one evening, so I’d LOVE to see them do the bible.

  6. Pieter B, FCD says

    I’m trying to remember—I mostly saw them at RenFaire, so the memory is unlikely to be 100% accurate—but I think I’ve seen Romeo and Juliet both forward and in reverse, repeated with the time getting shorter and shorter. Truly inspired madness.

    I’m happy to see they’re still active. Must see if they’re going to be doing anything locally.

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