Marlborough became Jerusalem for three hours on Saturday afternoon, April 15 when the Easter Story was brought to life.
Crowds lined the north side of Marlborough High Street for the opening scene of the Marlborough Community Passion Play.
Jesus (played by professional actor, Frazer Blaxland) astride a horse led the procession amid shouts and waving palm leaves. The procession ended in drama at the temple (Marlborough Town Hall) with the overturning of the tables of the money lenders.
Action then moved to The Parade where three stages had been erected to allow the sixty strong cast tell the Easter Story using Helen Stokes’s script. Angus MacLennan from The White Horse Bookshop played a brooding Judas Iscariot. Nic Piercy, complete with a beard grown especially for the occasion, played an earnest Peter the Apostle and there were many other familiar Marlborough faces.
Ten short scenes covered key events such as the feeding of the five thousand, the healing of the lepers, the reformation of Zacchaeus the taxman and, of course, the last supper, betrayal and trial, death and resurrection of Jesus.
Some members of the cast played several different characters. Frazer Blaxland’s father, Malcolm, was Barabbas, a leper, Zacchaeus and the risen Christ. This last role was enacted on the roof of the Fire Station! Despite a cool breeze, the sun shone, and despite being dressed only in a loin cloth for the crucifixion scene, Frazer Blaxland said, “I really didn’t notice the cold, I was carried along with the adrenalin.”
The whole production, which had been a year in the planning, was a triumph of collaboration, co-operation and creativity. Hundreds were involved, not only the actors but those responsible for the logistics and publicity, those working behind the scenes with costumes and sound, and those who sponsored the event. Marlborough Passion Play certainly achieved its aim of involving the whole community.
The large audience of all ages, many first time visitors to Marlborough, were awed and moved by the spectacle. The crucifixion scene, with the three crosses erected outside Dible and Roy was particularly effective, with brutish Roman soldiers, and poignant sound effects. Helen Stokes, artistic director said, “The play ended with the Resurrection and Ascension. Joy. Hope. Death is not the end. None of us can deny that our world today needs hope and we could all do with more joy.”
A retiring collection was taken to support the Wiltshire air ambulance airbase appeal.