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The Devil's Passion

Retelling the Easter story from some unusual angle seems to be quite the in thing right now. In the film Risen (shortly in cinemas), we see Christ’s death and resurrection through the eyes of a hard-nosed Roman tribune; a sort of Dirty Harry in sandals. Meanwhile, on the stage, Justin Butcher’s one-act, one man play the Devil’s Passion tries something even more ambitious: telling the entire Gospel story from the point of view of satan himself.

Jesus has been arrested and is about to stand trial. From his bunker, the devil talks us through how we got here, full of glee at having finally defeated his nemesis (I’m very sure I wouldn’t be spoiling it if I told you that at the end the play, it’s the main protagonist who’s defeated). He takes on several characters as he recounts the story – Mary, Zacchaeus and Judas, to name a few.

So much of what is said could apply as much to current events as to biblical ones – right from the opening, in which a sharp-suited politician-like figure uses all the “war on terror” rhetoric imaginable to describe some ‘radical’ who’s a threat to our way of life, before we realise that the ‘radical’ in question is, in fact, Jesus.

The Devil’s Passion is sharp, thought-provoking and often funny, and Justin’s performance is spellbinding. Well worth seeing if you’re looking for an alternative take on the Passion this Easter.

The Devil’s Passion is currently on tour. For listings, see http://www.justinbutcher.co.uk/devilspassion/

George Luke is a journalist and broadcaster based in London

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