The Gospel According to Jesus, Queen of Heaven

The Gospel According to Jesus, Queen of Heaven
By Jo Clifford. Theatre Works, St Kilda. April 28 – May 8, 2021

A mesmerising new production of The Gospel According to Jesus, Queen ff Heaven is here for the Midsumma Festival. Originally performed and written by Jo Clifford, a transgender performer based in Edinburgh in 2009, it was condemned by the Archbishop of Glasgow calling it “an affront to the Christian faith”. Lyn Gardner from the Guardian called it “moving and infinitely graceful”.

A celestial space - the chorus of four are humming (l feel l should light a candle); people are being seated; the pre-show ambience is meditative. The lights go of f- blackness - lights up and Kristen Smith, a transgender performer, enters like a “Queen”, delivering a rich and powerful monologue, dressed in a pale sequinned gown, voice resonating with passion and conviction.

An amazing fusion of theatre, storytelling and ritual, it reflects on the life of Jesus as transgender. It is provocative, challenging and truthful. It spouts contemporary Christian beliefs of acceptance and preaches kindness, strength and endurance in the face of cruelty, ignorance and fear.

There is a call to freedom - “Change is a coming, one day the world will be free” - a closing note from the entire team as they gracefully exit the space. This is a heart-wrenching, true to life story that toils with the church’s hypocrisy. Clifford reimagines biblical doctrines of love and wants all people who are excluded from the church to be embraced and accepted if they so choose.

Flora Georgiou

Photographer: Cameron Grant, Parenthesy

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