In Noonday Demons, Peter Barnes explores a theatrical mode in which everything is simultaneously tragic and ridiculous. St Eusebius is in devotional exile in the desert, alone apart from a tower of his own excrement, enduring extreme physical deprivation for the betterment of his soul and apologising to the maggots that live in his festering flesh. After a desperate struggle with a Cockney demon that speaks through Eusebius’s mouth, he is challenged by St Pior, a rival hermit, to a bizarre duel of piety. With a mixture of slapstick, rhetoric, religious fervour and red-blooded vernacular, Barnes creates a comic theatre of opposites.
Noonday Demons was first presented with Leonardo’s Last Supper in 1969 at the Open Space Theatre.