Tim runs the website Holy Land. He’s made it his business to display suffering and violence, for people to do what they want with it. The play unfolds as a striking story of three people confronted with senseless evil.
Holy Land is a passionate and compelling exploration of human nature in the information age.
Matthew Gouldesbrough’s script is punchy, thought-out and clever. He is most effective when exploring this new form of violence. He cleverly points out reflections between ordinary people and the dark web: The dark web might be used by our neighbours, we derive a similar sort of pleasure from innocent ‘you’ve been framed’ videos, and there is always an imprint of each and every one of us on the Internet, an imprint that never fully leaves. The scenes that follow from this premise are painful and compulsive, interspersed by fittingly jarring use of mixed media.
The story also feels as though it belongs to the information generation – its characters are very human. It observes us while making careful commentary on our impulses. This is also what makes Holy Land so unsettling.
Holy Land also (unsurprisingly) concerns itself with religion. While some of the most passionate moments in the play come from this theme (often from the brilliant Rick Romero), the ideas about religion generally cohere less. Gouldesbrough delivers a lot of different messages about faith, but these are sometimes muddled.
Acting-wise there is a great deal of talent on display from the three leads. Each actor was delivered their various different characters with energy and attention to detail. Kate’s (Hannah Morrison) conversations with her boyfriend (where she played both parts) were exceptional. I could feel the thought that went into her performance.
Holy Land is only told between monologues. It does achieve a lot with this, as we can be shown the innermost thoughts of a character. I did, however, find myself longing for a scene the actors could share together. Telling the play only through monologues meant the relationships and links between the different sectiosn are also not as clear as they could be.
However, the passion in the writing and acting were more than enough to carry Holy Land to a satisfying conclusion. The show is a powerful story about the perversity of the information age and the perversity of attempts to set the world to rights.