News Archive

Thursday 16 June 2016

York Minster Mystery Plays

13419006_10209563572916883_1684779309845883555_nFr Richard writes.....

Do get to the York Minster Mystery Plays if you can. The production is excellent - very dramatic and compelling. You will find your understanding of the Catholic Faith enriched.

The plays were written and performed in Medieval York not only to help people understand the stories of the Bible but to enable them to enter more deeply in the worship of the Church. They serve the same purpose today. The cycle of the Christian year from Creation to the Last Judgement was brought out of the city's churches and into the streets.

This production makes excellent use of the space in the Minster and is true to the spirit of medieval performance. Highly technical effects are avoided but great drama is achieved by relatively simple means. The plays are perfomed on three levels, as they would have been on the carts in York's ancient streets. Earth is in the middle with heaven and hell above and below, each engaged in combat for the souls of men. The cosmic context of the drama is constantly present as the the angels and demons make their dramatic entrances.

There is so much to highlight, but for me the flood with its spectacle and comedy, the baptism in the Jordan and the tableau of the Last Supper were particularly fine. The Sacrifice of Isaac who willingly laid himself down on the altar was paralleled by the crucifixion when Jesus lay down willingly on his own Cross. Philip McGinley is an excellent Christ, conveying gentleness and authority, always in complete control of his destiny, striding though each scene completely at one with his Father's will for the salvation of the world.

You will be inspired.