Theatre Review: The Globe Mysteries at Shakespeare’s Globe

Bible tales with more than a hint of Monty Python in the Globe’s new mystery play.

Gags and laughs might not be the first thing you’d expect from a dramatisation of the creation story as told in the Bible.

But wordplay and wit are the beating heart of poet and playwright Tony Harrison’s revision of the English Mystery Cycles.

The medieval mystery plays were among the earliest forms of drama. They begin with creation, end with the last judgement, and feature all the key players - Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah, Herod, and Jesus - in a plot universally known.

A sacred heart with sparkling golden shards frames the stage beautifully as God (David Hargreaves) and his khaki-cassocked angels gather beneath, and Lucifer (Paul Hunter) sporting long johns and tattoos struts about cockily.

The dialogue is witty and pithy, full of rhyme and lilting northern brogue. Satirical use of props, such as the sacred neon tennis balls, add to the Monty Python ambiance.

The Old Testament stories are staged with more ingenuity than the Christian story, but effects such as a full size crucifix being raised on stage with Jesus (William Ash) nailed to it maintain the excitement.

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God is great and sinful we remain by showdown, but the entertainment along the way is cracking. Old fables still speak true.

* Showing at Shakespeare’s Globe in New Globe Walk, Bankside, SE1, until October 1.