The Passion Play
Conglomeration of local acting talents
Chelmsford Cathedral, Chelmsford
Saturday 24th March 2012
Reviving the 450 year old tradition of producing the Miracle Plays at Chelmsford Cathedral two years ago with The Nativity, this week the tradition continued with The Passion.
The production team gave themselves something of a challenge, not least with such a numerous cast in the intimate space within the cathedral, but also to stage a practical crucifixion! All of the technical production elements, led by Brian Greatrex, were well considered and executed. I liked the fire used in Peter's denial scene, and was impressed how smoothly the erection of the cross was carried out. The professional lighting and sound were very effective, and well worth the effort to transform a space which may not otherwise suit a theatrical production.
Patrick Appleford's original music joined the scenes beautifully together, directed by Katie Miller, with the sparkling voice of cantor Kathy Sheils bringing the melodies to life, ably backed by members of the cast.
The cast were evidently a mixed bag of theatrical experience levels, but all gave the beautifully poetic Harrison script a good go, to generally great effect.
Jesus was portrayed by Jakob Kelek, handsome, strong and likable in the pivotal role he was well cast and enjoyable to watch. Jim Crozier's Judas was stoic and contemplative, keen in betrayal but complete in remorse, his death before the interval was delicately staged - a strong performance. The dramatic highlight however was the crucifixion scene, the Knights (Kenton Church & William Snagge) charged with carrying out the execution were led by a masterful James French, and all took great delight and pride in their bloody work. Using the whole space, the energy and enthusiasm they brought to this scene made the juxtaposition of the subsequent raising of the cross even more poignant.
Thoughtfully directed by Alison Woollard, and regardless of any religious aims there may also have been, this was simply an intelligent and well considered theatrical production.