BBC Radio 4, 2-6 April 2012
Set in a fictional cathedral somewhere in the Midlands, The People's
Passion explored people's relationship to organized religion and its symbols, including the church, the altar, and the
stained glass window.
The first play in the series of five interrelated dramas "Coming to Jerusalem," looked
at the role of the church, and whether it could offer succour to all its visitors, or whether it should be treated exclusively
as a place of prayer. Ellen (Adjoa Andoh) came in early to work in the bookshop in the hope of peace, but sadly could not
find it. Her immediate response was to blame the church for not fulfilling its spiritual function - which prompted her to
extreme action. Paul (Jim Norton) wanted to enter the church before the scheduled public opening at 9 a.m., and was most mortified
to find his way blocked by officious cleric Clive (Don Gilet). Graham (Kim Wall) strove to combine his clerial duties with
looking after his daughter.
The play itself was introduced by an old man (David Bradley), who although not directly
involved with the other characters, nonetheless understood the position of the church in the past as well as the present.
This knowledge made Ellen's act of protest seem that much more savage.
The second play "Betrayal," included at least two acts of betrayal involving Graham,
Paul and Clive, as well as chorister Callum (Harry Livingstone) and his fiancee Sonia (Rina Mahoney). While both of them seemed
needlessly petty, especially in an environment ostensibly promoting love between people, there was an historical justification
for them: Christ was sent to the cross through a similarly ruthless act of betrayal. It seemed that past and present were
The People's Passion took a harsh and uncompromising look at contemporary
religious attitudes, and how they were often shaped by external factors - jealousy, officialdom, rivalry and family loyalty.
I found Jonquil Panting's productions spell-binding, especially the music (composed by Sasha Johnson Manning), which set the