The Observer - 12 August 2012

Clare Brennan

 

York Mystery Plays 2012

 

The gothic arched windows of St Mary's Abbey point to no roof but the sky. Like the Mystery plays, the abbey was suppressed during the Reformation of the 16th century. Today its ruined walls provide a stunning setting for these revived medieval texts. Stone tracery patterns the darkening sky. As the sun sets, stage lights seem to shine more brightly on the hundreds-strong community cast performing these stories of creation, fall and redemption.

To see so many actors, of all ages and conditions, strolling, surging and streaming over the playing space is amazing. Their movements are supported by a 100-strong community choir and a brass band, who provide an atmospheric soundtrack (Christopher Madin, composer) that soars and whispers and fades to silence – into which the peals of distant church bells float. These are impressive, unscripted sound effects.

Mike Kenny's text follows the excellent 1950s adaptation by JS Purvis, conveying the seeming artlessness and simplicity of the original writing. Directors Damian Cruden and Paul Burbridge make much of the epic possibilities of the biblical events. The mass images they create remain vivid in the memory: the heavenly host as colourful whirling dervishes, Noah's Ark sailing through a sea of umbrellas. Only two actors have named roles, the professionals Graeme Hawley as Satan (appropriately, given his dastardly dealings in Coronation Street) and Ferdinand Kingsley as God and Jesus (a strange doubling); both stand out in a strong crowd. For all its splendid spectacle, what the evening lacked, on a preview night, was the spiritual power of its story. This may yet emerge

The Observer

Book Tickets

Recent News

Join us at the Visit York Tourism Awards!

Join us at the Visit York Tourism Awards!
Were you a York Mystery Plays 2012 volunteer? Do you want to join us at the Visit York Tourism Awards 2013?

2012 Production Nominated For 2 Awards

2012 Production Nominated For 2 Awards
The Visit York 2013 Award nominations have been announced with York Mystery Plays 2012 up for 2 titles.

York Mystery Plays Supporters Trust formed

York Mystery Plays Supporters Trust formed
A group of people involved in York Mystery Plays 2012 launch a new group to support future productions.

York Mystery Plays 2012 shortlisted for award

York Mystery Plays 2012 shortlisted for award
The marketing campaign for the York Mystery Plays 2012 has been shortlisted for a prestigious TMA award.

?>