(Henry Hitchings's article ran in the Evening Standard, 9/16.)
The Mysteries – Yiimimangaliso is an exhilarating sensory feast
The medieval mystery plays are steeped in Christian imagery, yet their emotional charge means they communicate powerfully to a secular audience. And whatever one’s religious affiliations, Mark Dornford-May’s adaptation of the Chester cycle of mysteries is utterly captivating.
Dornford-May has imbued these dramas — a legacy of the age of Chaucer — with a zestily contemporary South African tang. Part of the excitement of his production, in which English rubs up against Latin as well as Xhosa and Afrikaans, is its bold physicality.
At times we are linguistically baffled, but the tenor of the action is clear. Drawing on familiar stories, ranging from Genesis to the Resurrection, The Mysteries enacts the highlights of Christian myth (and its baser moments) in a manner at once savoury and scandalous.
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