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The Passion of Christ 2014, reviewed by Jenny Davis.

It’s a beautiful still night in the moonlit gardens of Government House as Tony Nicholls’ Passion of Christ 2014 unfolds. On stage there is passion aplenty, music, and fine, thought-provoking writing, in the audience absolute hush and concentration.

Skilfully directed by Anthony Howes and creatively designed by Dean Morris and Jay Waugh, this well performed production never flags. Nicholls’ modern interpretation of the Easter story re-examines what Easter means to us today, as he cleverly tells the story from the points of view of some of the protagonists. From James Hagan’s masterful, attention-seeking, revolutionary action man, Barabbas, who believes in violent nationalistic fervour, to the urbane and sophisticated Pontius Pilate who knows people “like certainty...to know that tomorrow will be just like today”, we are reminded of the hoary question: how would the world react if Jesus arrived in our midst today? Pilate, a delightfully sardonic but charming performance from Rick Hearder, feels the end justifies the means in order to “ensure the safety of the public, make sure the trains run on time.” But Pilate sees no harm in the man, Jesus, until the machiavellian High Priest, played with skill and clarity by Timothy Bowles, convinces him otherwise.

The arguments unfold before the eyes of young Gary, a strong emotional performance by Tyler Jacob Jones, who is tormented by our consumerism – “Easter is about chocolate” – and finds himself apparently witnessing the rehearsal of a play; but there are different levels of reality here. Is the Dream of the Rood (the Cross) a play or in fact a dream, or a vision? Erin Hutchinson as the enigmatic Woman, who speaks for the Cross itself is beautifully assured, lyrical, amused and deeply wise. Justin Friend gives a moving rendition of the hapless Judas, and Ben Thomas, Dene Irvin, and Mackenzie Dunn provide good contrast as characters from a more commonplace world.

This intelligent play also uitilises a very fine and well-choreographed Chorus who comment, ask questions, represent the masses, and fill the stage with constantly moving visual pictures. Effectively, the words are often subtly underscored by Tim How’s compelling music. Popular songs are also used to effect. When the charismatic Mark Desebrock, serene and eminently sensible, finally appears as Jesus and sings “You always hurt the one you love”, he could be singing of Himself or mankind.

The Passion of Christ 2014, reviewed by Jenny Davis.

It’s a beautiful still night in the moonlit gardens of Government House as Tony Nicholls’ Passion of Christ 2014 unfolds. On stage there is passion aplenty, music, and fine, thought-provoking writing, in the audience absolute hush and concentration.

Skilfully directed by Anthony Howes and creatively designed by Dean Morris and Jay Waugh, this well performed production never flags. Nicholls’ modern interpretation of the Easter story re-examines what Easter means to us today, as he cleverly tells the story from the points of view of some of the protagonists. From James Hagan’s masterful, attention-seeking, revolutionary action man, Barabbas, who believes in violent nationalistic fervour, to the urbane and sophisticated Pontius Pilate who knows people “like certainty...to know that tomorrow will be just like today”, we are reminded of the hoary question: how would the world react if Jesus arrived in our midst today? Pilate, a delightfully sardonic but charming performance from Rick Hearder, feels the end justifies the means in order to “ensure the safety of the public, make sure the trains run on time.” But Pilate sees no harm in the man, Jesus, until the machiavellian High Priest, played with skill and clarity by Timothy Bowles, convinces him otherwise.

The arguments unfold before the eyes of young Gary, a strong emotional performance by Tyler Jacob Jones, who is tormented by our consumerism – “Easter is about chocolate” – and finds himself apparently witnessing the rehearsal of a play; but there are different levels of reality here. Is the Dream of the Rood (the Cross) a play or in fact a dream, or a vision? Erin Hutchinson as the enigmatic Woman, who speaks for the Cross itself is beautifully assured, lyrical, amused and deeply wise. Justin Friend gives a moving rendition of the hapless Judas, and Ben Thomas, Dene Irvin, and Mackenzie Dunn provide good contrast as characters from a more commonplace world.

This intelligent play also uitilises a very fine and well-choreographed Chorus who comment, ask questions, represent the masses, and fill the stage with constantly moving visual pictures. Effectively, the words are often subtly underscored by Tim How’s compelling music. Popular songs are also used to effect. When the charismatic Mark Desebrock, serene and eminently sensible, finally appears as Jesus and sings “You always hurt the one you love”, he could be singing of Himself or mankind.