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The Edinburgh Passion

Princes St Gardens, Edinburgh
Three stars
It's nearly thirty years since Bill Bryden cast David Hayman as a
radical Jesus processing through the streets of Glasgow for The Holy
City, his contemporary television rendering of the Passion. Something
of that play's spirit seems to have trickled down into Rob Drummond's
own up to the minute version, which sees an authoritarian regime
campaigning for a No vote in a forthcoming referendum. Having already
reduced crime figures by bringing back the death penalty, political
figurehead Herod, his spin doctor McKayfus and police chief Pilate are
gunning for charismatic community spokesman and Yes poster boy Jesus.
Only when their nemesis is set up on trumped up terrorist charges do
Herod and his cronies appear to gain the upper hand.

Opening with two uniformed policemen flanking the Ross Bandstand,
Suzanne Lofthus' open-air production for the Cutting Edge Theatre
Company in association with the Princes Street Easter Play Trust is
played across three small stages in the Ross Bandstand enclosure before
we're led to a Last Supper in the Gethsemane pub beer garden. Here
Jesus signs autographs and poses for selfies before being sentenced to
death, not by crucifixion, but by lethal injection.

With a large community cast led by professional actor Duncan Rennie as
Jesus, such modern stylings work fine, though any parallels with
real-life referendums don't really stand up once the action moves into
more metaphysical, resurrection-based waters. While it's hard not to
sound preachy in a story designed to do exactly that, Drummond, Lofthus
and the cast have nevertheless pulled together a spectacle which asks
some still pertinent questions about faith, humanity and the need for a
dissenting voice to rise up.

The Herald, April 21st 2014
ends 

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