Nadia Lines has reimagined this play into the modern setting of an officePolly Bodgener

The York Crucifixion is a strange, funny and brutal little play. It forms part of the York Cycle, a series of medieval mystery plays originally written and performed over six hundred years ago in Middle English. The plays have a rich performance history – still put on to this day, they were made by and for the people of the city of York. They retell the stories of the Bible from start to finish, were performed from dawn until dusk, and were not designed for kings or princes, but instead were popular, public entertainment. Interestingly, trade guilds would be responsible for putting on the plays relevant to their work: for example, the bakers would stage Jesus feeding the five thousand and the nail makers would put on the crucifixion.

“You might even hear screaming from the basement of the Corpus Playroom”

For me, nail makers putting on the crucifixion is so on-the-nose that it toes the line of tastelessness, and this really drew me to The York Crucifixion. For all its bloody horror, realistic torture scenes and abject cruelty, it is, first and foremost, a dark comedy, able to make its audiences laugh at the very worst things that humans are capable of. In this adaptation, which I have translated from the Middle English and transposed into a new setting, an office, I have tried to bring out the bumbling, bickering comedy of the four soldiers (now interns) tasked with crucifying Jesus in order to juxtapose their callousness with the physical reality of his suffering.

The York Crucifixion, both six hundred years ago and today, is a spectacle. It should be entertaining. But at the same time, it also asks us to think about what it means to consume violence as a form of entertainment, and to what extent we are complicit in the violence of corporate machines and unfeeling institutions. In an age where war crimes are watched alongside cat videos, what does it mean to see and do nothing, to switch off, turn our backs, or leave the theatre?

“It is actually pretty difficult to crucify someone on stage (health and safety gone mad, if you ask me)”

Don’t think this is all theoretical, though. Our team has been working hard to make sure that we portray the play’s central, shocking violence with both pathos and a high degree of realism. Our stage manager has been busy mixing the fake blood, the nails have been ordered, and if you listen very closely you might even hear screaming from the basement of the Corpus Playroom.

Our actors have been incredible. Having to handle the tonal shifts between carpentry puns and workplace banter to acts of horrifying violence and Jesus’ devastating speeches is no mean feat, and I have been so impressed by their dedication, earnestness and compassion for one another, especially when working on really difficult scenes. The technical team has also done wonders – it turns out that it is actually pretty difficult to crucify someone on stage (health and safety gone mad, if you ask me). We hope that you won’t be disappointed by what we have created.


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The York Crucifixion is about complicity in violence, corporate evil, torture, dehumanisation and voyeurism. It has also involved me sheepishly carrying a giant wooden cross through Cambridge and just about every crucifixion-themed pun you can think of. This has been my passion project for longer than I care to admit, and if you have a spare evening, we’d love to see you – “I reckon it should only be an hour or so’s work…”.

The York Crucifixion is playing at the Corpus Playroom from 1st – 5th March. Get your tickets here.