I saw the Wakefield Cycle last night.
Actually, it was only part of the Wakefield Cycle, as the whole thing would take an entire day. At least.
As it was, the Mystery Plays last for four hours. Four long, cold hours.
These were the mystery plays performed by the guilds during the fifteenth century celebrations of Corpus Christi. The stories tell the Creation of the World through the Resurrection of Christ, and The Final Judgment. The drama department at my school decided to put on a selection of these plays during our Lenten season.
Some of the plays were thoughtful, some were just strange, and some were absolutely hilarious.
Not necessarily on purpose either – some medieval mindsets do not cross time very well – but because of some strange ideas and clumsy stage accidents.
(I had been holding the record for clumsy. The other night I slipped and fell down the stairs, breaking a beer bottle, [empty,] my little toe, [pain!] and possibly my dignity [whimper]. And lest you think the beer had anything to do with the fall, I promise you I am just awkward!
But now I think Satan might take the record for awesome awkward accidents.)
But the Lucifer decided to reveal himself in all his . . . brilliance. As he declared himself equal to God, Lucifer ripped off his white angel pajamas to enlighten the world with a sparkly, shimmering, three-piece jazz suit. Complete with a top hat. Sparkling top hat, of course.
But the best, best, BEST part – I dare any other stage play to top this moment – came when Satan put on his snakey-dragon appearance to go tempt Eve. Wearing a sneak head and trailing the long (shiny) snake body, Satan oozed out of the Trap Door of Hell.
He was so intent on reaching that weak woman, that he failed notice his tail. Stuck in the Trap Door.
Spewing poisonous words, Satan crept forward . . . only to be jerked to a standstill as he reached the length of his serpent body.
And the actor handled himself well, restraining any demonic fury and merely stomping loudly on the stage in an effort to get his minions to reopen the Pathway to Hell and release his errant appendage.
Eventually the stomping worked, but by then the actor had adjusted to his limited range of motion and was walking back forth between Eve and Hell. He did not realize that The Trap Door had been opened as he seductively withdrew from the Woman.
And stepped backwards into Hell and tumbled down.
I don’t think the Old Testament quite recovered from that Fall.
Now, why didn’t God think of that?
It was the ultimate failsafe for curtailing evil!
None of this was planned. We could tell by the way the stage hands were giggling fit to die.
We concluded our fun by throwing things at Pilate, who was Evil and a Mohammad worshiper. Popcorn was provided for our tossing pleasure, but it did not reach very far onto stage. And we were fresh out of rotten fruit.
But we did have twizzlers.
I think my twizzler was the only thing to hit Pilate all night. The thing remained on stage all through the Last Supper and the Washing of the Feet – where the disciples stared at it morosely – until it disappeared sometime during the Crucifixion.
And because the same actor who played Satan had played Pilate, we assumed that it would be okay to throw things at Satan during the Last Judgement. Only, it was thrown a hairbreadth too late, and the twizzler became caught in the Trap Door, sticking up out of Hell like one desperate, clawing finger.
And great times were had by all, at the Marvelous Misadventures of Wakefield!