Love must win out; it is the only thing that can” – Romero – the heartbeat of El Salvador

What an awesome and inspiring performance from Rise Theatre on Saturday 30th September.  St John the Baptist Cathedral were delighted to host the premier performance of Romero – the heartbeat of El Salvador.

From the moment the 55 minute play started to the very poignant ending, the audience was captured and transported to the hills of San Miguel.  It never ceases to amaze me how Rise can produce such stunning complex performances with a simple cast of 3 and an endless supply of scarves and hats.

John Bosco as Oscar gave a convicting performance that had the audience on the edge of their seats.   Katie Krane and Jake Clifford superbly framed and contextualised each scene and event; playing a myriad of key figures and friends –  all of whom were pivotal players in the events that influenced and shaped the man of God who spoke out for those who “had no voice”.

As the story unfolds, the audience is presented with gritty, unvarnished reality of the often times winding and stumbling journey of faith that took young eager Oscar from relative obscurity, through his early years as a beloved parish priest of San Miguel to the giddy heights of his appointment as Archbishop of El Salvador and on to the trials he faced trying to shepherd and later on defend his people in a time of repression, bloody turmoil and gross injustice.

As with any life, there were moments of humour and laughter, of sharing and deep friendships.  The light cast by these moments were expertly juxtaposed against the grim historical events to give the audience a true and faithful account of the events that led up to the assassination of Oscar Romero on 24th March 1980; whilst he was celebrating mass.

For me, this play echoes the teachings of Jesus on Mount Sinai- “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for uprightness: they shall have their fill.”(Matthew 5:6)  – that is exactly how I feel having witnessed this play – a profound sense of having shared in Oscar’s journey .  And later in Matthew’s gospel ” Blessed are those who are persecuted in the cause of uprightness: the kingdom of Heaven is theirs”(Matthew 5:10).

I am so grateful to Rise Theatre for coming to Norwich to share Oscar’s inspiring history with us.  As a catechist preparing young people for Confirmation I would urge my fellow catechists to get your groups along to Romero when it comes to a church near you.  This play is a powerful example of the life that we Catholics are called to live  – a life of love that is “cannot walk on by when faced by the suffering of others”.  So if love is a heartbeat – what does your heart beat for?


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