independent

Friday 18 April 2014

Holy show set to take over Limerick village, as 'Jesus' flogged, crowned with thorns and left in grotto overnight

'You’ll say don’t crucify him, but we’ll do it anyway,' says show director

Actor Garry Fraher plays Jesus in the production.

The director of an Easter production depicting the last hours of Jesus is hoping around 10,000 people will descend on his Limerick village to watch his emotive show.

Director Eamonn Harty said he's hoping people will really connect with actor Garry Fraher, who will be playing Jesus. Mr Frahar will not be put in any real pain, but the realistic display will have him whipped, a crown of thorns placed on his head and being left locked in the village's grotto for the night.

Mr Harty said he hopes his production, based in Pallasgreen village, which will go on for around 24 hours, makes people appreciate the biblical events.

"We’ve all been to Good Friday service over the years. You listen and it doesn’t mean anything. It doesn’t connect with you," he said.

"You understand, but you’re separated from it. You’re going to see a man play to part of Jesus. Being afraid and being in grief.

"When people abuse him, you will feel that. It won’t be nice to look at."

Mr Fraher, who owns G and D Tyres in the village,  says he is confident in the part and isn't worried about props hurting him.

"The construction team are doing everything in their power to make sure I’m safe. I’ll feel impact, but I won’t be busted open or anything like that," he said.

The actor has also had to read passages from the bible, which he says is "one thing I thought I’d never have to do". He'll be playing Jesus while still speaking in his Limerick accent, which he says adds authenticity.

“I have a normal Limerick twang, which will add emotional rawness. You have to bring an awful lot of yourself into the part.”

Despite the production's nature, Mr Harty, who has been involved in various local dramas over the year, said children can attend the event.

"Of course children will come, but when times get rough, like during scourging, parents [could] bring kids away.

"Life isn’t at all times nice. We’re just trying to be as real and honest with that as possible."

At first, around 14 people were involved with The Passion, but close to 50 people are now taking part in it and rehearsing numerous times a week, as excitement mounts in the Limerick village. Mr Harty hopes the audience will connect to those actors.

"During the night, in the Grotto, you will see our mother [Mary]. When you’re a parent and your child is about to die, it is the worst thing possible," he said.

"When you see our mother cry, you will weep alongside her. We’re going for realness.

"You won’t want to see him crucified. You’ll say don’t crucify him, but we’ll do it anyway."

There will be less gore than Mel Gibson's film adaptation of The Passion of the Christ, but will be "just as real".

Mr Harty is demanding perfection and already has his cast growing beards, has era costumes and has even got his hands on "simple little props from Bethlehem".

The production will kick off in Pallasgreen at 8pm on Holy Thursday.

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