‘Faith, Hope and Charity’ review – Striking look at community in austerity Britain

Cecilia Noble delivers another powerful National performance in a play about what keeps us going when everything around us falls apart – ★★★★

The Dorfman Theatre, incredibly intimate and minimalist, is still enough space for the people in Faith, Hope and Charity to breathe. In what is a strong, character-driven piece from playwright Alexander Zeldin, the space is transformed into a community centre with a leaking roof, its inhabitants still finding hope and comfort within its walls – including through a community choir.

In a flurry of conversations, we are introduced to them all. It’s both a sign of the different lives people lead, and disorientating character development. Though it is through impressive performances, such as by Downstate‘s Cecilia Noble (as strained staff member Hazel) Killing Eve‘s Susan Lynch (as mother Beth who is fighting to keep her child) and War Horse‘s Alan Williamson (as the charming elderly gentleman Bernard) that certain individuals stand out.

While the play focuses on the battle faced by Beth, I found myself drawn more to Hazel. For a play which looks to show the stresses faced by those facing the brunt of austerity, it’s the experiences of the officers – who are sometimes completely helpless – which is the most devastating. Noble conveys powerfully Hazel’s reserved nature, as someone balancing several lives and commitments. It’s in both a charming and revelatory conclusion that we are left with a stark reality.

With several interconnecting subplots, as opposed to a central narrative, Faith, Hope and Charity is about the strength of community. As characters take a seat next to us in the audience, we become a collective listening group, and this is a story to be listened to.

Faith, Hope and Charity is now playing at the Dorfman Theatre until 12 October.

Production Images: Sarah Lee.

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