Passionate people

Passion for Northumberland play in Alnwick Market Place on Good Friday.'Richard Packer as Jesus.

Passion for Northumberland play in Alnwick Market Place on Good Friday.'Richard Packer as Jesus.

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REVIEW: Passion for Northumberland, on Good Friday, in Alnwick Market Place.

It was heralded Northumberland’s first Passion Play. Here’s to hoping it won’t be the last.

Passion for Northumberland play in Alnwick Market Place on Good Friday.

Passion for Northumberland play in Alnwick Market Place on Good Friday.

Hundreds of people packed into the Market Place on Good Friday to support this ambitious project.

And while this contemporary retelling of the Easter story through live drama and song felt a tad raw (including some technical issues) in places, it was a more than decent debut and long may it continue.

Described as a production by the community for the community, Passion involved a large cast and crew from around Northumberland with a mix of experience.

Each and every one of them should take a bow for playing their part in bringing this project to fruition. Make no mistake, it was brave. Turning the Market Place – including the Town Hall – into a giant theatre must have been a daunting prospect in itself, but it worked, thanks also to a giant screen which captured the action.

The play unfolded all around – and sometimes among – the audience standing in the middle of the cobbled square. It was an interesting experience which made you feel part of it.

The decision to tell the tale in a modern-day context – with social networking included – kept things relevant.

There were some nice touches too. According to the Gospels, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. In this contemporary retelling, he came into town on a mule – a Kawasaki Mule loaned from Rickerby.

Chris Jones’ script gave the Easter story a local setting; Jesus was a joiner from Shilbottle, while his Disciples included fishermen from Amble and bankers from Bondgate.

Mock-up front pages of the Gazette, reporting Jesus’ latest exploits, added to the narrative.

Fittingly, there was a miracle on the day. The weather was fine! No snow, no rain, and it wasn’t freezing. An unwelcome appearance from either the wet or the white stuff may have led to reduced audience numbers for this open-air performance.

There is an intention to perform Passion next year, perhaps in a different part of Northumberland. Hopefully it will be the start of a tradition; the hundreds who supported it shows it has the legs to become an annual event. That would be a good thing.