The Work: Plays

When God Wanted a Son

1986, (2w 1m)


JOSHUA, professor of semantics, is Jewish; MARTHA is Gentile. They were married and are now separated. CONNIE is their daughter struggling to be a comedienne. Her humour is sophisticated and sardonic. She's not having much success. She returns home for comfort, hoping to understand and reconcile her confused and confusing background.

Her mother, attempting to dabble in the stock market, is a closet anti-Semite. JOSHUA returns to persuade his estranged wife to forgive and forget and invest money in his wild scheme: a project to build a machine that will detect true character through the inflections of the human voice. MARTHA tries but cannot bring herself to like or respect him. He is too uncomfortable a personality.

The play argues that anti-Semitism, like stupidity, is here to stay.


"Ahhhhh! No! Tell him to go! Do you hear how he comes with offence? Look at him. He walks into everyone's room that way, as though he were born there, as though he can say anything anywhere anytime. We agreed. You promised. My home. My decisions. My privacy. Not everybody wants you around. Not everybody thinks God chose you to be their neighbour. Tell him to go. Tell him I can't bear anything about him - his arrogance, his opinions, his irreverence. No reverence for anything, only what he thinks, what he wants, what he believes. Him! Him! Him! Don't laugh at me. Do you hear his laughter? Do you hear his superior laughter? So superior, so confident, so happy, so eager, so interested, so talkative, so fucking full of his own fucking self …"


... The writing is full of fire and energy ... drive ... a real sense of passion and pity …
John Peter, The Sunday Times.

... Wesker's ideas are intriguing ...the play has a genuine intellectual vitality that keeps the audience on its toes ... demonstrates Wesker's unquenchable theatrical energy ...
Michael Billington, The Guardian.