The Spirit of Man is made up of three short comic satires about man’s faith across the ages, the momentous subject deftly balanced between humour and solemnity. In three parts spanning thirteenth century France, Commonwealth England and nineteenth century Poland, Barnes examines the desire to believe and the terror of believing.
In A Hand Witch of the Second Stage Marie Blin is accused of being a witch, and is about to be tortured – when she confesses, and backs up her confession with an unearthly power. In From Sleep and Shadow, the Reverend Guerdon stands over the corpse of his wife Abegail, begging the wild and heretical ranter Israel Yates to bring her back to life. The Night of the Sinhat Torah sees the Seer of Lublin, the Rev Mendel and the Maggid of Kozhenitz gather to accuse God of crimes against Himself.
The trio was broadcast by BBC TV in 1989.