Political theatre has been declared the nation’s debating chamber. Democracy and theatre have always gone hand in hand – both starting their western lives in ancient Greece. Scholars emphasise the the civic ideology of the festivals of Greek drama in Athens. So what is on the British stage in the run up to the General Election? Plenty. Get stuck in.

Nostalgia is a potent emotion, eeking out regrets and yearnings, lost loves and past triumphs, especially when looking back to a time of childhood innocence when your world was simple, eternal and seeming blissfully free of limitations. Memories of childhood can be sparked by the smallest of stimuli: the scent of suncream from beach holidays, a snippet from children’s television as you flick through the channels, or going back to a place you used to live. So when I saw that ‘Child With a Dove’ was likely being moved to Quatar next month I was moved to a point of tears, a plethora of memories and regrets came back to me seeing that image. That pang came over me firstly for the reason that such a beautiful painting by such a loved artist should be going so far over seas, that the money hadn’t been raised to keep it here, but mostly because for me that painting encapsulates memories from my first decade of life.

Ruud van Empel constructs magic realist images, collating and editing photographs with photoshop to create eerie portraits, with afronting and innocent stares. The images are startlingly beautiful, especially in a era where ugly photographs of modern vistas have become normal. The pastoral quality and van Empel’s usual subject, black children, reminded me of a poem by William Black from his Songs of Innocence and Experience called ‘The Little Black Boy’. Both artists deconstruct the image of the white child as the traditionally innocent subject in western art.


Unfortunately, for Auden, who says that, ‘Christmas and Easter can be subjects for poetry, but Good Friday, like Auschwitz, cannot. The reality is so horrible… Poems about Good Friday, have of course been written, but none of them will do’ (W H Auden – A Certain World) there have been poems about that day and for many, they ‘will do’. It is not called ‘Good’ Friday for nothing. Christ’s crucifixion is prophesied throughout the Bible, creating probably the greatest literary foreshadowing of an event in any collection of books and poetry plays a key role in foretelling the saviour to come.

Good Friday is then a subject for poetry and the image which acts as its motif in the Bible is the lamb who was slain. Old Testament Jews would buy a one year old lamb, unblemished, and lay a hand on its head to confess sins over it; symbolically transferring the sins onto the lamb. Then at the first Passover (Exodus 12), which Jews today celebrate, a lamb’s blood was painted on the doors of God’s people so that the Angel of Death would pass over them. Jesus is our New Testament lamb, the wrath of God taken upon him in death, so that death passes over us and we may have eternal life (John 3.16). In John 19.14, John points out that Jesus was killed at around the time of the Passover – the disciple makes it abundantly clear that Jesus is our Passover lamb. Then in Corinthians, ‘for Christ our passover lamb has been sacrificed’ (5.7).

The following poem, from the book of the Bible ‘Isaiah’, foretells the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross.