Father, Son, and Holy Ghost by Kwame Kweh-Armah

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The Wire on BBC Radio 3

BBC Radio 3, 10 March 2012
Pastor T (David Harewood) is a young, radical preacher in an urban pentecostal church. Rescued from a life of crime by Bishop Andrews (Joseph Marcell), the Pastor has now become popular with the congregation, both for his sermons and his ability to understand the pressures of life in the inner city.
The Bishop, on the other hand, is nearing the end of his career; having spent his life building up the church, he now considers retirement. Unfortunately he is either unwilling or unable to cede any authority; he suspects Pastor T of conniving against him. He concludes - quite erroneously - that the Pastor will always be a hustler, despite his dedication to religion.
Kwame Kweh-Armah's play examines the consequences of inter-generational conflict; although the Bishop spent years building up the pentecostal church, he has now become too set in his ways - to such an extent that attendance figures on a Sunday have dropped alarmingly. However he refuses to hand over to the Pastor, in the (mistaken) believe that to let go the reins of authority might be interpreted as a sign of weakness. His misgivings are increased when the Pastor protects Ade (Charles Mnene) in a street-fight; in the Bishop's view, such unseemly behaviour is inappropriate for a person of God.
Kweh-Armah also investigates the vexed question of church finances. In a world where church buildings need to be continually maintained, money is always necessary: hence the Bishop becomes involved in a series of schemes designed to increase revenue, such as charging for private prayers, devising corporate prayers (designed for business leaders), or collaborating with local entrepreneur Bernard Edwards (Colin McFarlane) on an investment scheme, using money donated by members of the congregation. While Pastor T resents such schemes, in the justifiable belief that they have nothing to do religion, he can offer little or no alternative, other than to suggest that it might be more prudent economically to quit the building altogether. In a world dominated by capitalism, religion assumes a secondary role - even in the church.
The most compelling aspect of Father, Son and Holy Ghost is the conflict between the two central characters - the ageing Bishop and the enthusiastic Pastor. While both men mention the deity several times, we wonder whether they are actually sincere in their beliefs, or whether they are simply using religion for self-interested purposes. Kweh-Armah does not provide any answers, even though he creates a happy ending.