'Not what they expected': Hornchurch Passion Play portrays Jesus's grisly Easter crucifixion after two-year delay
- Credit: Ken Mears
Hornchurch Passion Play's return to the green by Queen’s Theatre went “exceedingly well” after a forced hiatus due to Covid, says the production’s director.
Normally held every five years, the play - which is a dramatisation of Jesus’s final days performed across four stages - had to take an additional two-year hiatus, meaning there was plenty riding on this year’s act.
Simon Pugsley, who took charge for the first time following the retirement of long-time director Kevin Walsh, said the performances went “really, really well”.
Over the three nights (April 15 to 17), Simon said he estimates around 4,000 people came to watch the action, in addition to the 60 or so cast members.
This is down on previous years, but Simon puts that down to a combination of people being unsure about attending large events and others going on holiday.
Thankful for what turned out to be a balmy weekend weather-wise, Simon said: “I am going to miss it, but I am very glad it’s over.”
He said he has “every intention to do it again”, and is hopeful he will be doing it “for the next 20 years”.
Organised by Churches Together in Havering, a consortium of around 30-35 churches, Simon said his involvement is his way of supporting the local faith community.
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“It was my contribution to the church,” he said.
The play has already received some positive feedback from audience members, with lots of pictures being sent through of the performances.
Simon said the Hornchurch Passion Play deliberately does not shy away from the more gruesome parts of the crucifixion and that it often has an impact on those attending.
“I think the main thing people think when they come along is they think it will be a lovely average church play, and they think 'whoa, this is not what I had expected,'” he said.
Given everything, Simon said he is “very happy” with how the Easter weekend went, and is hopeful that those watching enjoyed the play after seven years’ waiting.
“We had a long delay for various reasons, and I hope people remember going in 2022.”