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Christ's Passion transported to a No-vote Scottish future

A new staging of Christ's Passion set 20 years after a 'No' vote in the forthcoming independence referendum pitches Jesus against a right-wing ruler of Scotland.

This coming Easter weekend will see the performance of The Edinburgh Passion in the city's Princes Street Gardens, in a version of the Biblical tale where Minister Herod rules the country, aided by his "ruthless spin doctor" Jane McKayfus.

In the modernised passion play, written by Rob Drummond, Jesus avoids politics directly but is labelled a "dangerous insurgent" who faces the death penalty in a dystopic Scotland 20 years hence.

Another referendum is featured in the play, but it is a vote on whether Herod can stay in power or not, and in the modern take on the Biblical narrative, Judas betrays Jesus with a phone call. In the play, McKayfus (a version of Caiaphas) asked Jesus if he has performed any miracles, and Jesus replies: "Well, the trams are running, does that count?"

The torture of Jesus before he is crucified is not the lashings meted out by the Romans, but have been updated to represent the brutalities of modern states.

Duncan Rennie, who is portraying Jesus, said some Christians have told him they will not be attending because of its new presentation in a modern Scotland, whereas others have been intrigued.

The Christ figure, he insisted, remains apolitical, and added: "He is a non-political force - there are some very political things going on but he stays outside of that: but what he does stand for puts him in a difficult position."

The Edinburgh Passion is a community production with many cast and crew working as volunteers.

Suzanne Lofthus, the director of the show, which begins at 2pm, said: "If you take time to read the teachings of Jesus, they are very radical, he doesn't say the things you think he said."

Drummond said: "The politics are all there in the Bible. Herod is wanting to cling on to power, he is under a lot of pressure from Rome to keep control of his area. His motives for having Jesus killed are very political."

The performance is free.

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