Why did the mob choose Barabbas over Jesus ? Christine Wass's thought-provoking passiontide play suggests it might be because, as a Messiah, he was too keen on peace and love rather than violent insurrection.
Reg Peters played the Zealot leader, twenty years fighting the Romans, with Elizabeth Myddleton Evans as his other half, a pickpocket who, together with Simon [Robert Fishwick] is won over by Jesus. “He took the venom from my heart and the sword from my hand ...”
The Romans had some of the best characters, with Peter White as Pilate, and Kenton Church as the Centurion, filled with awe in the Gospel account, and played by John Wayne in
Beth Walters was convincing as his wife, Flavia, fearing the portents like in Julius Caesar. And playwright Christine Wass had the only laughs as a very Jewish Martha.
These are bit players in the great drama – the Crucifixion itself was done with effects and music [James Tovey and Becky Pardoe]- but they give us a chance to reflect, in Holy Week, on the myths of Jesus' passion. This was the Silver Jubilee production, the second of this play, and the first time in the Village Hall rather than the Parish Church. Theatre has its roots in religion, and these plays especially hark back to an ancient tradition of popular liturgical drama. Lose that link, and a spiritual dimension is lost, too.