Set in a Leeds of the near future, “The Good Book’ directed by Brett Chapman with a script by James Phillips, tells the story of a community beset by fear and suspicion.
A young woman called Bear, having had visions that society needed to return to the time of King Arthur, has somehow risen to be Queen. Her supporters, a puritanical mob of book banners (or burners) are being opposed by a secretive group of rebels known as Galahads. Tensions are rising and check points seem to be on every street corner.
Along these mean streets walks Avalon (formerly known as Claire). She has a special friend from ‘abroad’, whose text icon appears to be the Irish tricolour (though we find out they have never met in person). Another of Avalon’s friends is set up in a social club brawl, arrested and dragged away (by soldiers dressed like Crusaders who have swords as well as guns).
Avalon receives instructions to save a book from Leeds library. Soon after, an apparent assassination attempt on the Queen threatens to trigger a civil war. With informers, for both sides, lurking everywhere, Avalon could use an ally. Step forward Geraint (formerly Matt). Geraint seems to like her and tells her he stands with neither side. Geraint wants to help Avalon. He swears he isn’t afraid, but can she trust him?
The settings are impressively filmed, making “The Good Book” a treat for the eye. Sound is sometimes a problem, as dialogue wages its own battle with the background soundtrack (you may be grateful, as I was, for the subtitles). A cinema showing might suit it better.
Riana Duce is a winning heroine as Avalon: vulnerable yet incorruptible and brave. Angus Imrie maintains the ambiguity of Geraint to good effect – is he a wannabe hero who has fallen for Avalon, or something far less noble?
Leeds People’s Theatre drums up willing extras from the community whose commitment adds force to the sense of a society on the brink.
Commendable.★ ★ ★