ON the face of it a play about a 17th century Mexican nun who wrote plays and was persecuted for it doesn't sound like desperately exciting. However, I urge you to give Heresy Of Love at the Globe a chance.
Written by Helen Edmundson it is set in a convent in Mexico in the late 1600s. There a gifted, intelligent and progressive writer, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, pens her poems and plays.
She is celebrated by the Court, her fellow nuns and also the Bishop Santa Cruz who are all beguiled by her wit, wisdom and intelligent argument.
However when Archbishop Aguiar y Sejas takes control of the church he demands she stop writing fearing that she is a danger to society.
At first the other nuns and bishops try to persuade him to be more lenient but he has an iron will and is good at blackmail and in the end she is forced to stop. Her downfall is hastened thanks to a jealous fellow nun and her erstwhile friend Bishop Santa Cruz.
It is a fascinating commentary on the society at the time - how women were perceived both in and out of the church - and how women are still fighting for equality in all aspects of their lives.
The acting is first rate with a very powerful performance from Naomi Frederick as Juana. She is more than ably supported by Anthony Howell as Bishop Santa Cruz and Ellie Piercy as the Vicereine, with whom Juana has a close friendship.
But perhaps the star of the show was really Sophia Nomvete as the nun’s maid Juanita. Her witty repostes and saucy asides had the audience in stitches.
Brilliantly and beautifully written by Edmundson, it is a wonderful play – thought provoking, intelligent, passionate and moving and in its own way really quite gripping. It is also funny and tragic and the ending is full of sadness but also of hope.
You can’t really ask for more.
The Heresy Of Love is on at Shakespeare’s Globe, Bankside until September 5. Tickets cost from £5. Visit www.shakespearesglobe.com or call the box office on 020 7401 9919.