By Christopher Fry

A Sleep of Prisoners - Poster Image

It's a festering idea for a prison camp. You have to think twice every time you think in case what you think's a bit on the dubious side. Its all this smell of cooped-up angels worries me.‘

Four violent men, soldiers, are held as prisoners-of-war in a church converted into a holding centre. During the night, each is visited by the ghosts of dead patriarchs of the Bible story, among them Cain, Isaac, King David and Abraham. Difficult, argumentative, challenging, frightening ghosts, through the night they act out the eternal horrors of the human condition.

Centre Stage has turned its attention to one of the great pieces of drama written specifically for performance in the houses of God. And the themes are appropriate: When is the taking of a life justifiable in the eyes of God? Who is to blame for our willingness to kill others? Why doesn't God intervene to prevent atrocity and suffering?

This poignant play toured Northern Ireland from mid April 2002 opened in the beautiful St George'sParish Church, Belfast, and then toured to Christ Church, Derry, St Mark's,Armagh, St Margaret's, Downpatrick, and Ballyblack Presbyterian, near Newtownards

Christopher Fry, one of the great playwrights in English, tackles all these questions with humour, directness and compassion. In a production which itself burns with all the author's moral indignation and deep faith, the voices raised to the echo in the house of God are those of God's own prophets, their language sounding all the resonant chords of the Holy Books themselves.

The war could be any war. The time any time. The soldiers of any nationality and in any cause.

In a world once again familiar with prison camps, atrocity and violence in the name of God, this new production by Centre Stage was timely, powerful, moving and uplifting.