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Comedy company considers other venues for Bible show

Published 25/01/2014

Suzanne McGonagle

A COMEDY show about the bible which was axed by the DUP in Newtownabbey could still play to audiences after producers said they would "most definitely consider" another venue.

The Reduced Shakespeare Company had been due to kick off its latest UK tour by presenting The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged) on January 29 and 30.

But the show at the Theatre at the Mill was cancelled after DUP councillors said the content was blasphemous.

Last night the show's producers - who revealed it was the first time in 20 years the production had been cancelled - said they would definitely consider returning at another date.

Davey Naylor said they believed the "good people of Northern Ireland should be free to come and see the show to make up their own minds".

He added: "Sadly, at this late stage, I think another performance next week is remote, however, our tour goes on until April and there's no reason we couldn't come back at some point."

The decision to axe the show was widely reported and prompted a storm of controversy with complaints that the cancellation was a form of "censorship".

The company itself said that they found it "quite staggering that this type of censorship still appears to flourish".

It described the show as a "light-hearted and very funny celebration of The Bible", which has toured extensively across Ireland, United States and UK over the two decades, including two runs in the West End.

The company has also performed the show at the Jerusalem Festival in Israel without objection.

Playwright Austin Tichenor, co-author of the script and one of the managing partners of the Reduced Shakespeare Company, also spoke of his disappointment at the cancellation.

"Our show is a celebration of all the great stories of the bible," he said.

"The theatre is our temple and we're disappointed that people of all faiths will now not be able to gather at the Theatre at the Mill and lift their voices in communal laughter."

Stormont's Culture and Arts Minister Caral Ni Chuilin last night also said she was "disappointed" by the decision to axe the show.

"I know that the play has travelled extensively and been performed on the international stage for the past 20 years," he said.

"I am saddened that audiences here will not be offered the opportunity to see the performance and judge for themselves the virtues of the show."