10 years from now Britain is in civil war. Split between loyalists to the newly establish Queen Bear and the extremist group led by Galahad, the newly Arthurian nation is on the brink of civil war. For those in the middle, loneliness, despair and fear rule. The Good Book is the story of one such middle grounder Avalon (Riana Duce) who, in her search for companionship and meaning, is tasked with preserving hope as she hurries to save the soul of a humanity lost to extremism.
The first production of the Leeds People’s Theatre, The Good Book, is community theatre on film. Directed by Brett Chapman and written by James Phillip it stars over 100 citizens of Leeds alongside its three main stars Riana Duce (Avalon), Angus Immie (Geraint) and Katie Eldred (Vivian). Community is at the centre of this film. Community exists in both its production and the content within. The Good Book even shows off the company’s Slung Low roots by featuring the working men’s club The Holbeck from which they now operate.
It’s always great to see community projects realised, and it’s even better when they make something worth watching. The Good Book is good, but it does have limitations. I LOVE a near future dystopian film; especially one that is such a good allegory for the political situation in which countries exist. The Good Book has huge potential and was so so close. All it lacks is a touch of context dialogue. The Arthurian future is never really explained, and there’s no reason or context to why people are acting the way that they do. Maybe we’re not supposed to know, but at least a sign of a major crisis that happened or something come have been threaded in through an extra line hear or there. It just felt a little lacking. Avalon also seems to be using a mobile phone from 1995 that can still record video. I don’t really get why phones would go backwards, but at the same time stay where they were. Maybe production stopped, or government issued phones were created, but it seemed again, lacking context and for that typifies what The Good Book lacked.
Having said all of that, The Good Book also has an incredible amount to give, and delivers on it. For me, whilst a lack of context somewhat diminishes things, it doesn’t take away completely from what they’re trying to create. The sets, the props and the acting are all excellent. They’ve done a lot with the little they have and they’ve managed to create a truly compelling main character and deliver a heartfelt message of hope and reason. Avalon’s lust for change, but fear of the consequences is possibly the most realistic character I’ve seen in the dystopian future. She’s neither out for herself, nor intent on saving others. All she craves is understanding, affection and someone who feels the same confusion she does. She’s not a hero, although it is thrust on her. Unlike several characters we didn’t get to know well enough, she was relatable and felt very 3D. Only Vivian, with her interest in protecting Avalon by encouraging her to take on the Queen’s teachings,, showed any other deep sense personality.
I loved the concept of taking on Arthurian legend to save the country. I loved the rendition of a much changed national anthem before a politically motivated beating in the pub. It was all very Britain First and was a good representation of the idiocy of hating those who don’t agree for no reason other than differing beliefs. Vivian I think said it best, when she suggest Avalon take on her beliefs… so she could be safe.
At 30 minutes, The Good Book is well worth a watch. It captivated me from start to finish, and I truly felt for Avalon by the end despite the lack of context. Community production is always worth keeping alive, and if this is their first feature, I can’t wait to see what else they come up with.
The Good Book is set to be released on the 1st of May. You can watch the trailer below and checkout behind the scenes footage at www.slunglow.org.
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