THEATRE REVIEW: Nativity story at breakneck speed for the eastern end

EASTERN ANGLES: Gedney Hill actress Lianne Harvey (left) with Daniel Goodhand, Fiona Putnam and Alasdair Baker in The Trials of Mary. Photo by Dexter Morgan.

The Trials of Mary, Eastern Angles Theatre Company, Peterborough Cathedral

Initially, this reviewer’s decision to go and see Eastern Angles’ “story of Mary and Joseph as you’ve never seen it before” was taken to avoid Wimbledon.

The modern retelling of the Bible in 42 plays, from creation to apocalypse, was a ready-made escape route away from the ladies’ singles final played on the last Saturday of the All England Lawn Tennis Championships.

However, The Trails of Mary turned out to be an acting revelation (pardon the biblical pun) made even richer by the fact that the role of Mary was taken by Gedney Hill actress and Spalding High School alumni Lianne Harvey.

The play itself was based on Plays 8-20 of the N-Town Cycle, a series of biblical stories retold for a medieval audience and thought to have been written in East Anglia.

The cast of seven actors and actresses went from the announcement of Jesus Christ’s birth to Mary, through to the nativity account itself and the visits of the shepherds and wise men.

But the way Eastern Angles brought the early years of Jesus to life, with simple props, an energetic cast and vivid costumes, made the fact that this was taking place early July, rather than December, completely redundant.

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