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Sydney review - Cleansed in Blood

Cleansed in Blood

Written and performed by Thom Jordan

Presented by Not Suitable for Drinking

The Old Fitzroy Theatre

129 Dowling Street, Woolloomooloo

Season 23-27 June 9:30 pm

What would compel you to believe in God? To be convinced of his existence, and thus his almighty power…to surrender all of your life to this higher being and encourage others to do so as well?

I imagine that if the audience took a discussion break that night in the Old Fitzroy Theatre, we would hear some rather diverse responses. In fact, it is exactly this dialogue that Thom Jordan is wishing to instigate through his play Cleansed in Blood. Jordan’s work confronts the audience with the crucial questions of the divine and the eternal, highlighting the power that religious institutions or individuals can wield, when blind faith and lack of scepticism prevail.

Some say that acting is essentially storytelling, and Cleansed in Blood embraces this concept, driven by the telling one man’s life story. Jordan’s self-devised performance as Paul initially drew on personal experiences from his upbringing as a Minister’s son.

Through this background, the work possesses deep authenticity and allows the character of Paul to express his passion in serving God as well as natural criticisms, dubious of certain religious behaviours prevalent in a Christian culture.

Throughout the piece, a particular perspective is not privileged, rendering the audience more receptive to the various views conveyed. Jordan’s spiritual beliefs never seem obvious, as the audience is met by his conflicted nature growing up in a highly religious environment and apparent fervour for an evangelical mission for God, eventually opposed by his nagging scepticism and doubts. Jordan takes advantage of this uncertainty and subverts natural narrative progressions and audience expectation to keep you constantly on the edge.

The final product is electric, with Jordan’s boundless energy reverberating throughout the theatre from start to finish. Jordan keeps music in his command through clever use of a laptop, incorporating this sound design to build tension to an astounding level with only one person on stage. Jordan’s characterisation of Paul was enamouring in its naturalism and believability and this extended to his portrayal of numerous other characters, aided occasionally by a simple costume change.

Jordan performed Cleansed in Blood at the Adelaide Fringe Festival and was consequently nominated as ‘Best Emerging Artist’. Having just completed his tour in Perth and currently shaking things up on stage at the Old Fitz in Sydney, Jordan’s next challenge is to take on international audiences at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. This is your chance to catch him in his final performances for Australia before he shares the show with the world!

As we all consider our faith, or lack thereof, and grapple with our justification of these beliefs, this play will strike a chord with everyone. Profound insight complemented by sharp humour, Jordan has crafted a scintillating work. Is humanity faced with an all-powerful God with sinful followers who endlessly screw up, or are some humans simply deluded in a hope for something greater than us on earth?

Do people need physical miracles coaxing them towards God? These are certainly big questions for a night at the theatre, but infused with comedy and Jordan’s irrepressible energy on stage, you’ll have a ball.

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