My birthday present for this year was two tickets to the play The Day they Kidnapped the Pope, staged at Theatre Pitt by Pilgrim Players.
It was an absolutely marvellous romp. The large and talented cast threw themselves into the story with enthusiasm and conviction and just the right blend of tongue-in-cheek slapstick and theological insight. The audience didn’t have to make any special effort to show their appreciation of religious jokes; they roared with laughter as the Jewish cab-driver held the Pope in his pantry for a ransom by which nobody in the world would be killed during a 24 hour period. Interfaith chess games and exploding bombs in the front yard added to the riotous spectacle.
The play ended with a successful 24 hours of total world peace; the Pope declared he’d just been taking a couple of day’s vacation with friends; the SWAT team was stood down. Our sides were aching from laughter. But, at the end, the world went back to killing people all over the place. Was nothing changed?
Well, personally, we could have been at a church meeting somewhere else. It wouldn’t have been as much fun and probably wouldn’t have considered world peace as even a remote possibility. For a couple of hours we were transported out of our everyday existence and into a madcap world of dedicated imagination and delicious humour. We were made to laugh; we were made to think.
Maybe church should be more like that.