At the start of Joe Harbot's play The Boy on the Swing, everyman Earl Hunt finds God's business card in the street. Calling the number on it leads him into a surreal journey through the offices of Hope & Trust, a company who (for a fee) promise to let him have some one-on-one time with a bearded, elderly man who they're reasonably sure is probably, almost definitely God. Or possibly Santa. This trailer for Joe Murphy's production at the Arcola is taken from the opening scene, and I think gives a good indication of what's in store.
Harbot's musing on faith in the 21st Century takes the form of a gentle, likeable comedy in which Earl (adorable Michael Shelford) finds himself swept up by the surreal red tape of messrs Hope & Trust (Will Barton and Peter Bourke) and their scatty receptionist Jim (Nick Blood.) Apart from a brief attempt to go a bit dark and sinister which doesn't quite fit in, this is a hugely enjoyable, funny play whose cast have nailed the ever-so-slightly off-kilter tone needed to make it work; its philosophical musings don't come to any more conclusions than any religious discussion but there's something really absorbing about the eventual encounter with a slightly absent-minded, melancholy deity (a spookily well-cast Fred Pearson) who's a bit put out that nobody's ever thrown him a birthday party, because he doesn't have a birthday. It's not an earth-shattering piece but it's one I found easy to love, and it's a shame the smaller Studio 2 was less than half-full tonight.
The Boy on the Swing by Joe Harbot is booking until the 9th of April at the Arcola Theatre.