The Resurrection, St Peter’s Church, Belper

Cross Against The Sky

It’s becoming something of a tradition in Belper that Easter is celebrated with a community based drama. In 2013 & 2014 this was centred upon the trial and crucifixion of Jesus through the Belper Passion play which drew full houses to the churches involved and filled the street. It was decided to round out the story in 2015 with a version of “The Resurrection” with performances by over 100 people from community groups.

The Flash Mob Crew, created by Alex Lamb, began in King Street where singers and dancers performed on there way to the Memorial Gardens. From there the funeral courtege, with disciples carrying Jesus, made it’s way to St. Peter’s Church. It was estimated that over four hundred people completed the walk.

Inside St Peter’s Church a film made by Henry Pratt played as the audience took their seats. “The Resurrection” opened with Taylor Bridges taking the stage. She danced to James Oldrini’s version of the Lord’s Prayer sung by Daniel Shaw. For the next 75 minutes the audience were gripped by the drama that unfolded.

The story narrated by Elizabeth (Isobelle Grace Keith) and her son Will (Will Slade), went from the entombment of Jesus to his appearance to Doubting Thomas (John Mobbs) and beyond before Belper Musical Theatre closed the drama with a performance of “The Rose”.

“The Resurrection” may have been a community piece but it is necessary to mention some outstanding performances. Michael Fletcher (Governor), Dan Skidmore (Jesus), Maggie Burns (Mary) and Sali Gresham (Magdelene) reprised their Passion characters. Jeff Foster was a playful, teasing, hugely confident Satan who tormented Tina Hampton as Judas. The confrontations between the two highlighted what fine actors they are. The supporting cast complimented the tone and the action, especially Dinah Dawson and Eddie Bennett as the incompetent guards.

But it was Megan Harman as “Lilith” who lit up the stage. As the first woman, a temptress who had married the devil, she delivered a mature, spell binding performance, bringing to life a character that filled the spectrum between demonic and the child / woman with subtlety and wit. The final scene between Lilith and Magdelene was a tour de force featuring two actresses at the top of their game.

“The Resurrection” was written and produced by George Gunby who has gathered a regular team around him that features Jamie Vella (lighting), Henry Pratt (sound) and Ron Mander (stage manager).

During the past twelve months I have seen great theatre in Belper including “The Diary Of Anne Frank”, “Still Life”, “Mind Games” and “We’ll Be Home For Christmas”. It’s as if the different productions are egging each other on to produce better and better theatre. After what we have seen during the past three Easter performances I can’t wait for Easter 2016!

Review by John Underwood