The Mysteries, a radical reinvention of the Mystery Plays, was first seen in South Africa in 2000 and draws on the country's rich choral township traditions as well as modern rhythms created with oil drums and penny whistles. The show received its UK premiere in June 2001 at Wilton's in east London, when it had an extended sell-out season while running in repertory with the company's take on Bizet's Carmen.
Since then, The Mysteries has had an extended West End season, running for four and a half months to 18 May 2002 at the Queens Theatre, and toured worldwide. Four different languages are used in the piece - Afrikaans, English, Xhosa and Zulu - which is performed by a cast of 40 young South African actors of all races, many of whom have had no formal stage training.
Back at Wilton's until 14 December 2002, the same company is now performing The Mysteries along with its new version of John Gay's The Beggar's Opera, which reunites director Mark Dornford-May, music director Charles Hazlewood and choreographer Joel Mtethwa.
After Norwich, The Mysteries tour will visit Salford, Newcastle, Birmingham, Richmond, Nottingham, London, Plymouth, Milton Keynes and Bath.
- by Terri Paddock