The third part of writer-director Alexander Zeldin’s trilogy of plays has just opened at the National Theatre. Faith, Hope and Charity follows 2017’s Beyond Caring and last year’s LOVE – which was also adapted for BBC Two, produced by Friends star David Schwimmer.
Taking the front line of the fight against poverty right to the heart of the theatre establishment is just one of Zeldin’s missions.
a quarter of the population is living below the poverty line, foodbank use is going bananas – so this is not a special interest piece
“I get asked why I need to tell these stories. But a quarter of the population is living below the poverty line, foodbank use is going bananas – so this is not a special interest piece. It is a barometer of what is going on in the country. And not just for the poorest people but for everybody. It is about what we believe is care, what we believe is nurture,” he says.
“I am not particularly interested in telling political stories, I’m interested in human feelings. But it is human feelings through the prism of what we are living through today. And the austerity measures of the last nine years are the defining political feature of the era.”
I am interested in seeing what nine years of austerity can teach us about faith and hope
The play, it could be argued, shows David Cameron’s misguided Big Society idea in action. Drastic budget cuts hammering public services in the hope that charities and grassroots organisations will compensate.
“In all these places, it is left to the vulnerable to help with the most vulnerable,” says Zeldin, who toured community organisations, choirs, foodbanks and church groups across the country in preparation for the play – meeting people, leading workshops with his cast, talking to people living in poverty.