New York Contributing Critic
Religion is a tough thing to talk about in the theatre. It’s a tough thing to talk about anywhere, but in a medium that literally traps people in a room and makes them observe a piece of someone else’s life, it’s even more difficult. Testimony takes any difficulty that one might find and replaces it with honesty, emotion, and a faith that anyone can relate to no matter their religious beliefs.
Written and performed by Christine Anglin and directed by Meghan Finn, Testimony tells the true account of Anglin’s struggle find love and acceptance at the church she once attended when she tells them of her homosexual relationship. It centers around her search to find someone in the church that she can trust, as well as learning that her faith and her love for God is not anyone else’s to control or alter.
Many of us who grew up in or still attend a church of any kind will likely relate to the story Anglin tells. The phrase “christianese” comes up periodically and it means someone who says that something is coming from God when God clearly has nothing to do with their words or actions. Whether they come out of a place of prejudice, hate or jealousy, if you have spent any length of time in a church you have seen “christianese” be spoken. When this kind of talk comes from someone who you look up to, it is hard not to take it personally and start to doubt the very things that make you you. This is where Anglin’s story shines.
Although this is a story centered around the Christian faith, Testimony is a show that anyone can relate to. Many people have had a moment in their lives where someone in a higher position than themselves that they trusted has tried to use that higher position to belittle and control them. It is not a great place to be in but Testimony tells us that we are ok. It tells us that as long as we know the values that we want to stand by and believe in, no one can take that away from us.
Although concerned at first, that the spoken-word style voice Anglin began the show with, while beautiful, would make the hour-long show feel static, she quickly brought her own personality, both comedic and tragic, to the story. These events were visibly hard to recount and yet it was that kind of emotion that made Testimony so authentically Anglin. You really got the sense that no one else could have told that story in that particular way because no one else lives, thinks, and feels like Anglin. This kind of authenticity and rawness in emotion and story is so theatrical and I am so grateful that Anglin decided to share this part of her life with us.