The play delivering on its merciless promisesAmy Meyer

Content warning: mentions of blood, gore, torture

At the exact moment that the first nail ‘enters’ his body, the actor playing Jesus (Mithiran Ravindran) cries in such a way that it’s difficult to believe he isn’t truly in some terrific pain. Very nice, I remember thinking, before registering the spots of blood on my clothes and notepad. A closer look confirmed that the spots were likely no more than a mixture of olive oil and vinegar, but in that hysterical moment the audience was paralysed by the thought of watching - feeling - a man bleed for show.

The York Crucifixion is an adaptation of events that take place in the mediaeval York mystery plays, in which four soldiers blithely go through the motions of crucifying Christ. In student director and writer Nadia Lines’ version, the soldiers are interns (played by Frederick Upton, Nelly Wollman, Emily Gibson and Riya Hotwani) who subscribe heavily to the ideals of corporate culture, if the quip about ‘needing this (the crucifixion) for the problem-solving section of my CV’ is anything to go by.

“American Psycho meets medieval morality tale”

All we know of Jesus in this context is that he has for some unknown reason lost the company profit - and so he must be made an example of. There is much bickering and disorder as the interns try to set up the cross. Jesus prays briefly to his Father for the forgiveness of humanity, before humanity nails him down.

The decision to imagine the crucifixion scene in a modern setting is a highly entertaining and illuminating one. The production draws a clear parallel between Biblical and modern-day cruelty. The world of budgets and corporate profit is as robust as it is unforgiving, and in this production where American Psycho meets medieval morality tale, Jesus appears for once as more man than god.


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At times, The York Crucifixion risks gratuitousness, but for the most part the scenes of violence are well-handled. Jesus is played with incredible maturity and commitment by Mithiran Ravindran. Sound designer Isabella Woolston makes clever use of familiar music: the play’s content warning at the very start warns us placidly of the ‘blood, gore, crucifixion’ to follow to the beat of generic elevator music. A constant accompaniment to the action of the play is the sound of typing, performed by an unspeaking secretary (Amy Meyer), which eventually mingles with the pained gasps of Jesus bleeding out on the cross.

The actors playing the interns exchange barbs with impressive comedic timing, and manage to make their everyday office complaints sound natural and authentic. Riya Hotwani, who plays the group leader among the interns, displays their range as they switch from aggressive and authoritative in a moment to unnaturally saccharine in the other.

“It is difficult to look away and leave the venue even after the lights come on”

Coming in at just under thirty minutes, The York Crucifixion has a break-neck pace that grips us from the beginning. It is difficult to look away and leave the venue even after the lights come on. The directorial choice of having the cross be the only prop onstage – with Jesus secured to it – is rather ingenious. The starkness of the solitary cross focuses our attention on the crucifixion. At the same time, it reminds us that the cross is, with nothing surrounding it, only a prop – slightly wonky and disposable. It does not have the grandiosity of the religious symbol. The York Crucifixion is an incredible achievement of iconoclasm and satire, and indeed, as the overview states, ‘a theatrical experience you won’t want to miss’.

The York Crucifixion is playing at the Corpus Playhouse at 21.30 until Sat 5th March 2022