CHESTER’S world famous mystery plays have made it to London’s West End.
The Mysteries, a production by The Isango Portobello Company of South Africa, is playing at The Garrick Theatre on Charing Cross Road until Saturday, October 3.
The production is directed by Mark Dornford-May, who played Jesus in the Chester Mystery Plays in 1977 when he was 21.
His father, Peter Dornford-May, directed the plays in 1967, 1977 and 1982. Mark was brought up in Littleton and educated at Ellesmere Port Grammar School. His mother, Rayna, still lives in Chester.
“The Chester Mystery Plays are fantastic pieces of theatre,” said Mark, speaking from his home in South Africa.
“Whoever wrote them was a brilliant theatre writer.
“I know I’m biased because of my connection with the city but I honestly believe that the Chester Mystery Plays have a humanity and an earthiness which others don’t have.
“There is also comedy and light-hearted elements.”
The Mystery Plays were written by monks from the Abbey of St Werburgh, now Chester Cathedral, and they tell stories from the Old and New Testaments from God’s Creation through to the Last Judgement of Christ.
Members of the city’s freemen and guilds performed the tales to a populace who would not have understood church services in Latin.
They were originally staged on open pageant wagons which were trundled through the streets to ‘stations’ where the audience would gather.
Jo Sykes, chairman of the Chester Mystery Plays, said: “I am absolutely thrilled that the plays are being performed in London. They belong to the people and the more they are seen, the better for Chester.”