WAS fortunate for both the audience and the critics this
Friday's choice of Passion play, “The Vigil”,
by Ladislas Fodor, presented by that excellent group of
amateurs, the Wesley Players, was not a complicated religious
outburst which aimed to frustrate any understanding of the
annual crop of intellectual problems which arise at this
time of the year.
It was a simple, clear Easter drama which left the audience
with that well-seasoned question: Did the resurrection take
place, or was it an ordinary crime—body snatching
—carried out by a very ordinary man who dug up the
grave and stole the body?
Tony Armstrong's production of this two-hour Easter story,
presented at St. Peter's Bedford, and again on Sunday at
Putnoe Heights Methodist Church, was good.
It did not always reach the perfection which Mr. Armstrong
himself would have liked but he moulded his players into
their parts so well that one could only believe that the
trial which forms the basis of the Passion Play was justified.
More than justified was Mr. Armstrong's choice of cast.
Chris Maskell, as the young, intelligent prosecutor, charged
with the task of trying to convict the gardener (David Carter)
who is alleged to have stolen the body of Jesus, was the
perfect reproduction of all that a good lawyer should be.
was sincere, never overplaying his lines, and was accurate
with his interpretation.
Nan Armitage, was an excellent defence counsel who cross-questioned
the witnesses about the little evidence available on the
actual deed — and about their religious beliefs.
Miss Armitage excelled both in the sincerity of her belief
in the part, and in her belief that her client was innocent.
She was cool, calm and sufficiently outward-thinking in
her approach to the part to succeed in excellently balancing
the acting of Mr. Maskell.
I particularly liked the slick acting of Peter Beck as a
wealthy lawyer who allowed Jesus to be buried in his garden,
and Lady Procula, the governor's wife (Josie Fennell), who
said what a charming dinner guest Jesus made. They gave
evidence as truthfully as they could and held the interest
in detail about the happenings at the time of the resurrection.
Two characters who must surely have dispelled any doubt
in the minds of the audience on the reality of what took
place in Palestine, were Susannah, a confused believer (Vera
Newbold), and Mary Magdalen (Myrtle Newbury), who both swore
that the resurrection took place.
Judge, Charles Spencer; Prosecutor, Chris Maskell; Defence
counsel, Nan Armitage; Defendant, David Carter; guard, Bill
Newbold; Esther, Joy Newbold; Lucius, David Jackman; Mrs.
Pinchas, Marjorie Stoneham; Joseph, Peter Beck; Lady Procula,
Josie Fennell; Pontius Pilate, Robert Snell; Saul, John
Yunnie; Beulah, Frances Yunnie; Sadoc, Brent Rogers; Susannah,
Vera Newbold; Mary Magdalen, Myrtle Newbury; Peter, Don