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Faith, Hope and Charity arecardinal virtues in Christianity, and they are also the title of AlexanderZeldin’s new play now showing at the Dorfman stage of the national Theatre inLondon. Religion does not enter the play at all but there is indeed faith inhumanity. Hope in helping the poorest and charity with love and humility.

The play takes place in a soup kitchen where people go for ameal and company. There is also a choir where the abilityto sing is optional.

The kitchen is run by Hazel(Cecilia Noble) and Mason (Nick Holder), a middle-aged man who volunteers tohelp and organize a choir. He is a former prisoner and knows what it means tobe down and out.

The people who frequent the kitchenhave a lot in common. They are poor, of course, but they also come from brokenfamilies, have emotional problems and are basically society’s forgotten. Tharwa(Hind Swareldahab) does not speak English and comes regularly with her littlegirl for some food. That is all we know about her and that is all we need toknow.

Susan Lynch as Beth has atroubled teenaged son Marc (Bobby Smallwood) but has an even greater problemshe has a small daughter and there is a court hearing about her custody. Bethis about to lose custody of her child. The moving story goes to the end of theplay as Beth desperately searches for help and looks for support from Mason andHazel.

There is Bernard (Alan Williams)whose committed the crime of getting old, being forgetful and poor. We get afew laughs from his conduct but there is nothing funny about his fate. He comesto eat and wants to sing but can’t remember any of the lyrics.

If the people who come for a mealhave problems so does the institution itself. The developers are trying toevict Hazel and Mason and shut the whole thing down. Developers versus helping thesocially left out. Guess who wins?

The key characters are Hazel andMason. They come from broken homes and they are like the people for whom theycook and jolly along every day. I will pay special tribute to their actingbecause they manage to capture the spirit of the play. There is no preaching,no charity just plain decency. The level of acting by the entire cast issuperb.

Not one of the visitors to thekitchen is judged in this beautifully modulated and marvelously acted play. Itis a paean to basic humanity and decency. The faith of the title refers orshould refer to Hazel and son’s faith in humanity. The hope is what theynaturally engender in people who seem to have no hope. Charity? No, just plaindecency in a frequently if not fundamentally indecent society.

Zeldin also directs thiswonderful night at the theatre.


Faith, Hope and Charity by Alexander Zeldin continuesuntil October 12, 2019 at the Dorfman stage of the National Theatre, South Bank,London, England.

October 4, 2019

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