You write the reviews: The Prophecy, Chester Cathedral, Chester
Tuesday 22 July 2008
The Chester Mystery Plays, a cycle based on biblical texts, date from the 14th century and are performed every five years in the shadow of Chester Cathedral. It's a complex and overwhelming enterprise by anyone's standards, but my apprehension at the thought of such a project being held in the open air of the famously fickle British summer, with a non-professional cast of more than 300 local people, quickly turned to admiration for their hard work and success.
The Prophecy, the first set of collected playlets in the cycle, had a sizzling start, with a brilliant, jazzy Lucifer attempting a coup in Heaven, only to be stopped in his tracks and banished through a smoking trapdoor into Hell. What followed was a bright and bustling "Creation", which burst with colour as scores of masked animals and birds roamed the stage. "The Temptation" was cleverly staged, with a puppet as the serpent and the Devil dressed as a conjurer pulling the strings.
The highlight of the Chester cycle has always been the story of Noah, and this production was no exception. At the heart of it is the bickering relationship between the bemused Noah and his gawping, gossiping wife. This playlet was a complete musical in itself, bringing together song, dance, the heartache of the Great Flood and the renewed hope offered by the receding waters.
As part of "The Nativity", there was a scene full of innuendo and word-play as the Welsh shepherds watched their flock. This humorous inclusion of the locals from over the border emphasised the fact that the plays were written for a particular region and its audience, with the humour specific to that area.
The one weak link was "Massacre of the Innocents". Although it was thoughtful in its use of young men and boys as child soldiers forced to commit barbaric deeds, I felt that the massacre was too long, and duly lost its power and effectiveness.
The set was well-designed, with numerous different levels, alcoves, doorways and trapdoors, all adding to the production's multi-layered ability to depict the realms of angels, men and devils. The costumes were an interesting mix of the traditional and the contemporary, with the angels resplendent in their golden robes, and the devil's minions dressed as conjurers and jokers. The animal masks were hand-made masterpieces, and it was a joy to see a showcase for flair and creativity rather than shop-bought uniformity.
The Chester Mystery Plays were a true gem. My only regret is that I will have to wait five years to see them again.
Megan Eluned, student, Bethesda, Gwynedd
Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treattv
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 A politically correct lefty goes to see Top Gear live – you'll probably believe what happened next
- 2 Woman accidentally shoots herself in the head while posing for a selfie
- 3 Isis burns woman alive for refusing to engage in 'extreme' sex act, UN says
- 4 Puerto Rico, island of lost dreams: People are leaving the debt-hit territory in droves as near neighbour Cuba's star rises
- 5 David Starkey 'tells Amal Clooney to shut up and stop over-promoting human rights'
Art Garfunkel calls Paul Simon a 'monster' with a Napoleon complex
Eurovision 2015 winner: Sweden beats Russia and Italy to take the title from Conchita Wurst
Dheepan, film review: Palme d'Or prize goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head
Game of Thrones, The Gift: Why two of the show’s most iconic characters just met
Eurovision 2015: Estonia seemingly enters Louis Tomlinson from One Direction
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
Scotland may have to leave the EU even if it votes to stay in, David Cameron confirms
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
Almost a third of school pupils believe 'Muslims are taking over our country', study claims
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
Gay marriage 'Bert and Ernie' cake bakery found guilty of discrimination in Northern Ireland