Week One Reviews – Christian Support Group

“Christian Support Group” is the latest offering from Derry playwright Rosalind Patton. There are no cast credits in the brochure. Patton takes on the thorny subject of “Christian” beliefs that condemn human love. Here Patton uses the contrast of the local LGBT centre where everyone is welcome and the Christian Support Group who will “help you find other joys in life”. 

There is a strong cast of contrasting locals. The nervous ‘Amy’ who believes becoming gay is contagious, to ‘Flora’ the out lesbian, ‘Phil’ the well-informed Mother and ‘Daryl’ and his drag alter ego ‘Coco’.

Directed by Brian Hasson, this hard-working Derry troupe are very successful in bringing their ‘local feel’ to their work, which charms the staging. Derry is full of “characters” and Patton sketches them plausibly. The Support Group is probably destined to fail, yet the issues brought out, the Biblical research and the human stories are well worth hearing along the way. They are particularly relevant in a contemporary Western European region, still divided over versions of the Bible. 

There is somewhat of a “false ending” which the writer could review in firmly establishing the genre of the piece. Should the play end with ‘Faye’ acting on her instincts or do we need the feel-good party scene that the obvious warmth of these characters deserve? There is nothing wrong with feeling good, especially as this cast are a totally comfortable team and the audience are well entertained. But Patton had made her dramatic point well, and Faye had delivered it in style. The quality of the dramatic development tended to get lost in predictability in the reconciled party scene and its vibrant sound-track positive ending. 

Sometimes less is more and as Patten has demonstrated with this latest work, that she continues to grow as a writer and an observer of Derry life. She should be confident enough now that the fine dramatic ending she achieved earlier in the play is in fact a good job, well done. 

Runs until Wednesday at 7.30pm in Theatre@Teachers Club. AO’B.


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