Wednesday 17 January 2018

Sheen locked in cell in The Passion

Michael Sheen will take part in a production of The Passion in his home town of Port Talbot
Michael Sheen will take part in a production of The Passion in his home town of Port Talbot

Hollywood actor Michael Sheen will eat his "last supper" before being locked in a police cell as he plays his latest role in a 72-hour live performance of The Passion.

The Welsh actor, whose films include Frost/Nixon and The Twilight Saga, has returned to his home town of Port Talbot to star as a Christ-like character in the marathon National Theatre Wales production.

He will spend Saturday evening eating a meal of beer and sandwiches in a dramatisation of the Last Supper at the Seaside Social and Labour Club - where Welsh rockers Manic Street Preachers will also perform. The actor will then be locked in the cells at the town's police station for the night, before being "crucified" on a roundabout overlooking Port Talbot bay on Easter Sunday.

More than 1,000 local residents are also taking part in the production, which is being performed at venues across the industrial seaside town.

The play began at 5.30am on Good Friday with a scene on the seafront inspired by John the Baptist's baptism of Jesus, which was watched by several hundred people who had only heard about it by word of mouth. By 3pm, when the first main part of the play was performed on Aberavon Beach, there were thousands of spectators on the damp sands and along the promenade craning their necks for a glimpse of the star.

Sheen provoked gasps when he emerged from the crowd sporting a scruffy beard and shaggy hair and wearing a blue hooded top with a red blanket wrapped round him.

After a powerful speech which moved one woman to tears, he melted back into the audience and walked off down the beach in the direction of Port Talbot's imposing steelworks, before spending the night sleeping rough on a mountain on the outskirts of the town.

Sheen, who is also co-director and creative director of the play, has described the project as like a soap opera.

"There's episodes of the story over the three days, and in between those official episodes there's other stuff going on but you just have to go and look for it," he told This Morning. "It's a story that is absolutely about the town now, but it is underpinned by the story of the last week of Jesus."

Sheen was inspired to put on the ambitious drama - which was two years in the planning and is the finale to National Theatre Wales's launch year - by watching performances of Passion plays in Port Talbot when he was a child.

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