How The Passion was brought to life in central London

Trafalgar Square was filled on Good Friday with spectators who turned up to watch the free annual Passion of Jesus production. Tourists in open top buses also spared a glance as part of their tour of London. Now in its fifth year, The Passion of Jesus continued to draw in crowds of people of all ages.

The biblical story of Jesus' last days and crucifixion was re-enacted by a cast of 100 volunteers from London and the South East. The Wintershall Players took on the roles of Jesus' disciples, a crippled boy, Roman soldiers and the Pharisees, not forgetting the two horses and donkey who were in supporting roles. All delivered strong and memorable performances. 

Co-Director Kathy Longbottom, who has been a member of the Wintershall Players for over 15 years, was overwhelmed by this year's turnout.

"It's amazing. It's a bit chilly but people sat out here on steps," she said.

She continued: "This year's crowd seems to be bigger which is wonderful. I loved it when they applauded when Jesus rose during the resurrection scene." The production was in its fifth year in London but has been a regular fixture in Wintershall for almost 25 years.

James Burke-Dunsmore reprised his role as the Messiah and the crowd appeared to be quite taken by him. The interactive segment of the play saw a select few members of the crowd cry out to have Barabbas executed and Jesus spared.

"The purpose of the play," said Longbottom, "is spreading the news of Jesus and what he came to tell us".

The weather proved to be favourable this year which director Ashley Herman was pleased with. In previous years the team have had to compete with wind.

"An enormous amount of work goes into the preparation," he said. "The rehearsals take about six weeks. There are more people back stage putting the show together than there are acting in it."

He continued: "I don't want people to think that we are ramming evangelical ideas down people's throats. That's not the purpose of it at all."

He says the project has had a lasting impact on those who participate. "Some of the responses have been very moving over the years. Lots of people have been changed by it. We often have people who come into the play not sure and it changes them once they are in it."

Charlotte De Klee, producer of The Passion of Jesus and all the Wintershall plays, hoped that spectators realise that Christianity is not "a disappearing thing". "I hope they feel deep encouragement when they see this square stuffed full of fellow Christians, that we are not the empty church that seems to come across in the media".

The Wintershall players' next production will be The Life of Christ which will take place in Surrey this summer. For more information, vist their website