Five-yearly dramatisation of Jesus's final days returns to Hornchurch after Covid delays

Simon Pugsley, as Jesus, in the 2011 performance of the passion play.

Simon Pugsley, as Jesus, in the 2011 performance of the passion play. - Credit: Archant

A dramatisation of the Easter story is returning to Hornchurch for a five-yearly tradition two decades in the making.

The Hornchurch Passion Play, first performed in 1995, is returning over the Easter weekend following a two-year hiatus because of Covid-induced delays. 

It is held every five years on the green by Queen’s Theatre, and features a cast of 60 volunteers as they replay the moments building up to Jesus’s crucifixion.

Spread across four stages and incorporating multiple scenes, it typically attracts around 1,500 to 2,000 people per night. 

Simon Pugsley, who has had previous roles including as one of the apostles and even a stint as Jesus, is taking on the helm this year, with long-time director Kevin Walsh stepping down. 

Organised by Churches Together in Havering, a consortium of around 30-35 churches, Simon said the intention is partially to attract people who do not attend church, but also to deliver something of worth to the community. 

“This is our way of continuing to provide a community event, but is also a way of us promoting the real Easter message,” he said. 

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The Hornchurch Passion Play is on April 15, 16 and 17, starting at 7:30pm. 

It is free to attend.