Play opens with darkness, a single light, and a weeping woman. This is the small village of Bethany, adjacent to the holy city of Jerusalem. Jesus has just been betrayed and arrested. Two of his disciples now creep towards this house, seeking refuge and bringing the bad news to Lazarus, Martha, and Mary. The next thirteen scenes gradually move the viewer from darkness to light, from fear to inspiration.
While the play is set in biblical times, it has a contemporary feel. Instead of dwelling on the suffering of Jesus, this passion play focuses on how ordinary people come to faith in God. The audience is drawn into the drama, both by the realistic way the characters speak about their fears and doubts, and by having some of the play's action take place in the midst of the audience.
There are about 70 minutes of spoken dialogue in the play. A dozen musical pieces are suggested to bridge the scenes and provide time for set changes. Care should be taken to limit the length of these pieces and move the singers on and off quickly, so that the whole performance stays near two hours. A short intermission is provided 2/3rds of the way through the play.
This play has been performed in various settings with great results. The included staging notes show how it can be done in a church sanctuary, without a curtain, or on a traditional stage. It has a cast of 24 to 30 (some actors can play two parts). When done without a curtain, stage directions show how to place the choir so that they hide the scene changes. An editable script is available, so that directors can reverse the staging to suit their location. Bill Kemp is willing to answer your questions and provide advice on adapting the play to your setting.