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Chester Mystery Plays bring the Passion back to the city

Performance of the play parades through Chester's streets on Good Friday

The city centre streets of Chester thronged with people on Good Friday to witness the first ever performance of the Chester City Passion.

A Chester Mystery Plays event, produced in association with Theatre in the Quarter, was directed by Matt Baker and commissioned by Churches Together and Link Up.

Hundreds of volunteer actors, singers and children told the story of the last days of the life of Jesus with the city’s heritage, shops and glorious cathedral providing the backdrop to one of life’s best known stories.

Under a sunny Easter sky, spectators witnessed Jesus, played by Northgate Church youth worker Nick Sherratt, enter the city through the Eastgate Clock arch before being welcomed at the Cross by his followers brandishing palm fronds.

Nick Sherratt as Jesus in Chester City Passion(Image: David Sejrup)

On the steps of St Peter’s Church Caiaphas and Annas charge him with blasphemy before sending him to trial at the Town Hall Square.

The Last Supper was on the historic Rows and a bench outside Blackstocks Fish & Chip shop on Northgate Street was the setting for the Garden of Gethsamane.

Jesus’s road to Calvery was a short distance to the West Door of Chester Cathedral, where the crowd fell silent for the moving scene of the Crucifixion.

The crowd witnesses the Crucifixion outside the West Door of Chester Cathedral(Image: David Sejrup)

The cast and chorus was drawn from the community with many recognisable faces from previous cycles of the Chester Mystery Plays.

Youngsters from Chester Blue Coat, St Clare’s and St Werburgh’s and St Columba’s primary schools had their role to play as did Karamba Samba, soldiers from Roman Tours, Town Crier David Mitchell and Lucius the donkey, provided courtesy of Chester Mystery Players Douglas and Meriel Cashin, of Manley.

Lucius the donkey takes centre stage in the Chester City Passion(Image: David Sejrup)

Chester Mystery Plays chairman Jo Sykes said: ““What you see on the streets is the culmination of weeks of hard work by our professional and voluntary teams.

“We simply couldn’t do it without them. So many people have contributed money, time and skills - every single person that helped should rightly feel very proud.”

“The sun shone for us and using the city centre as a stage for this iconic theatre performance was inspired.”

Matt Baker added: “We were amazed at how many people came to see us.

“Despite the huge crowds you could have heard a pin drop during the Crucifixion scene, and it was wonderful to see so many people moved by the performance.”

The next full production of Chester Mystery Plays will be in the nave of Chester Cathedral from June 27 - July 14 2018.

Related story from the 2013 production Review: Chester Mystery Plays, Chester Cathedral

What do you think of this story? Did you see the performance in the city centre on Good Friday? Let us know in the comments below.

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