With professional actors Ferdinand Kingsley (Hamlet) as God/Jesus and Graeme Hawley (Coronation Street) as Satan, and involving over 1,700 local people, both on and off-stage, the 14-hour York Medieval Mystery Cycle has been condensed into a spectacular, three-hour outdoor performance by writer Mike Kenny (The Railway Children).
Set on a vast, purpose-built stage in the picturesque Museum Gardens, with covered seating for 1,400, the tremendous co-operation and generosity of the ensemble, intense focus and clarity of all on stage and incredible natural beauty as the sun sets behind the backdrop of the ruined abbey as Christ is born are a joy to behold.
Directors Paul Burbridge and Damian Cruden’s amazing spectacle, based on incredible teamwork and tremendous imagination, lets the medieval text ring out in the northern voices to which it belongs, relating the story of the creation, flood and life and death of Christ. The vast cast presents the seething mass of humanity, with many amusing, touching and shocking moments, and Kingsley is superb, remaining likeable, assured and relaxed throughout. This is a magnificent achievement by all involved, a truly memorable performance and by far the best community production I’ve ever seen. Go and see it, if you can.
York Mystery Plays 2012 runs at York Museum Gardens until 27 August.