Petrol Jesus Nightmare No.5 (In the Time of the Messiah)

Henry Adam's Petrol Jesus Nightmare is set in a military hideout against the backdrop of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It explores religious extremism, particularly Christian fundamentalism. However, it is not only about grand humanitarian issues, but also looks in microscopic detail at the individual, and the lengths to which they can be pushed before they break.Christopher Fraser Rybak's direction is experimental and he clearly wants to make the show as exciting as possible. The audience are led into the performance space one by one and we are forewarned to make ourselves known if we are claustrophobic or heavily pregnant - an indication of the experience to follow.Petrol Jesus Nightmare has a lot of ideas in it it that, though impressive, fail to hit the mark. For instance, some of the audience are sat in the performance space to supposedly make them feel amongst the action. Ultimately I only felt in the way; although a nice novelty at first, after two hours it became rather tiresome.The cast are all highly talented actors. Particular mention must be made of William Mitchell who plays Captain Yossariat: it is very rare to see an actor so young perform with such maturity and gravity. I was thoroughly convinced by his dark yet well-developed portrayal of a man at the end of his tether.The play is very exciting and does not feel overlong in its two hour duration. Rybak's decision to amp up the energy and emotion is a wise move as the play could easily drag, but unfortunately doing so loses some opportunities for subtlety. The play can be quite shocking and intense and the show would benefit from quieter, reflective moments.If they could only refine their ideas, this will be a great success in the future. If there's one thing this play will do, it is spark discussion. Petrol Jesus Nightmare is a wonderful play from a promising emerging company.

Reviews by Stephanie Bartlett

The Blurb

Two soldiers fighting the enemy from a window, but trouble arrives in the form of two American tourists. Intense and unique performance of a hard-hitting play set in war-torn Israel.