How noble in reason is man. In so many other ways, how frightfully petty.

When you think about it – as David Williamsonhas in his highly entertaining play Nearer the Gods– it really is a wonder that we’re not still wandering about, terrified we could topple off the edge of the earth. Because while the ages have abounded with geniuses all a-sweat to advance knowledge and divine the greatest of the universe’s secrets, ego-driven squabbling and mean-spirited prejudice make for formidable, perennial and sometimes fatal saboteurs.

It’s a constant push and pull between intellect and stupidity, which might have stymied civilisation entirely, were – as Nearer the Gods posits – it not for faith. Not necessarily in God, but in each other.

Gareth Davies as Isaac Newtown in David Williamson's Nearer the Gods at Sydney's Ensemble Theatre, 2022.

Given its Sydney premiere under award-winning director Janine Watson, this two-hour, two-act production carries this...