The Faith Machine, Alexi Kaye Campbell's third play after The Pride and Apologia, is about the conflict between faith and the free market in the modern world. It was first performed at the Royal Court Theatre, London, in the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs on 25 August 2011.
The play begins in New York in September 2001. Sophie, an idealistic Englishwoman, presents her American lover, Tom, with a moral choice: she will dump him unless he abandons a massive advertising account he has secured with a pharmaceutical company that has used Ugandan children as a laboratory experiment. The play then jumps back to 1998: Tom and Sophie are visiting her father, Edward, on the Greek island of Patmos where another moral drama is being played out. Edward, an Anglican bishop, is under pressure from a Kenyan cleric not to quit the church over its inflexible attitude to homosexuality. The plot continues to jump forward and back in time as we witness Edward’s declining health and the path of Sophie and Tom’s turbulent relationship.
The Royal Court premiere was directed by Jamie Lloyd and designed by Mark Thompson, with Hayley Atwell as Sophie, Ian McDiarmid as Edward and Kyle Soller as Tom.
Critical reception to the play was mixed. Michael Billington in The Guardian admired its 'expansive ambition and largeness of spirit', although he found it 'occasionally meanders'. Charles Spencer in The Daily Telegraph remarked that the play is 'blessed with a palpable generosity of spirit and many moments of sly humour', though concluded that 'Campbell is a better dramatist when he keeps his canvas smaller'.