A letter from a visitor to the Mysteries, Donald Judge:

A letter from a visitor to the Mysteries, Donald Judge:

First of all, let me say how much I enjoyed the Lichfield Mysteries on the Sunday. I’m so glad I discovered them just in time and made it from Manchester – well worth the journey.

I watched every minute of every play in the market place and then saw the grand finale in your beautiful cathedral. I’m sorry to say it’s the first time I’ve ever been to Lichfield and I was very impressed by everything I saw in the city. As promised, I brought Manchester’s famous sunshine. I’m sorry to hear the rain came on Monday, but in view of the recent weather, we were all very lucky to have a dry day on Sunday.

Most heart-warming of all was the involvement of so many in the community in this wonderful enterprise – young and old, actors, musicians and dancers, visitors from Europe and of course the backstage folk so vital to the success of the Mysteries. An amalgam of hard work, goodwill and vision, brilliantly realised and organised.

I’ve seen Mystery cycles in Chester and Pontefract but felt that Lichfield’s was truest to the spirit of the genre. I felt that leaving the presentation to the performing groups worked really well, and there were some wonderfully inventive approaches – I particularly enjoyed the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party and the dance-inspired numbers, while Doomsday was a fitting and very powerful finale.

Just to give you my background, I’m a retired primary school teacher and I’ve always been involved in music and drama, mostly with young people. I run a children’s music theatre in Bollington nr Macclesfield in Cheshire (www.fun.to/bfmt) conduct the (adult) Bollington Festival Choir, and am involved with the thriving Bollington Arts Centre and the forthcoming Bollington Festival in 2014.

I’m a keen amateur photographer and in addition to my Flickr photostream my pictures are on several websites here and in Europe, as well as in at least two published books – a guide to Sofia in Bulgaria and the Bradt guide to Eccentric Oxford. My images have also been used in publicity by Tatton Park and Buxton (Derbyshire) Festival Fringe.

My pictures from the Lichfield Mysteries are all in a set on my Flickr page at [ Click here ]

Once again, many thanks and congratulations for a truly outstanding achievement in presenting the Mysteries!

Reviews from the 2012 Production

Reviews from the 2012 Production

The Lichfield Mysteries
Part three: Drops of Blood
Lichfield Cathedral
By Phil Preece

I’m slightly ashamed to say I’ve never seen the Lichfield Mysteries before. I mean, I like theatre, it’s free and it’s in Lichfield, so what’s not to like?

Well I suppose I thought it might be a tad dull given that this form of medieval drama was swept away by the sophisticated theatre of Shakespeare’s day, and what’s more, it takes place in the chilly outside. But this year, seduced by a glance at the programme featuring episodes with names like The Harrowing of Hell and Doomsday, plus learning that I could see it safe from showers in the cathedral, I decided to give it a whirl.

I chose the last section of the story, got there early to bag a seat and was frankly amazed at the professionalism of what I saw. So many different community groups, everything from primary schools to pubs, had taken on sections of the tale and given them their own spin that the result was a kaleidoscope of forms and methods.

I couldn’t possibly give a detailed account of what I actually saw in this third section of the all-day Mysteries – there’s just isn’t space, so I’ll content myself with snapshots of some of the more memorable items from this richly diverse event. There was the story of Jesus’ first miracle, turning water into wine, performed by a group who’d travelled all the way from France and who handed out free tasters of the red stuff.

Gentleshaw Primary School, whose charming Entry into Jerusalem featuring Jack Wall as Jesus brought a tear to the eye. There was the lovely singing of the Disciples in South Staffs College’s zany Mad Hatter’s Tea Party version of the Last Supper.

I enjoyed Polly Dixon as the blingy woman in question in the Darwin Players’ Dream of Pilate’s Wife. There was the dignity and vulnerability of Alan Weaver’s Christ as he dragged a genuine, heavy cross in Wade Street Church’s raw portrayal of the Crucifixion. Chris Hughes as the Liverpudlian Landlady who earned her place in Hell by allowing drinking – in a pub! – in The Lichfield Arts Company of Players’ Harrowing of Hell. The exquisite singing in Lichfield Cathedral’s Resurrection specially composed for the occasion, and finally the sight of Lichfield’s esteemed Mayor Councillor Brian Bacon being accepted into heaven after seeing the error of his ways in The Mystery Players’ truly spectacular Doomsday.

So will I be watching this wonderful community event again next time? Try stopping me – I’m looking forward to it already. I may even give myself a treat and see all three parts of the whole day-long thing.