MARLBOROUGH was transported 2,000 years back in time on Saturday afternoon as the Easter story was brought to life for the eagerly awaited community passion play.
Crowds of over 1,500 people lined the High Street and The Parade to see the 60-strong cast production which covered events such as the feeding of the 5,000, the healing of the lepers, the expulsion of the merchants and money changers from the Jerusalem temple, the last supper and the death and resurrection of Christ.
At 4pm, Jesus, played by professional actor Frazer Blaxland, rode on horseback down the High Street, where local school children cheered and waved palm leaves that they had made, and up to the town hall which had been transformed into the ancient temple.
The captivated crowd piled into The Parade, where three stages had been put up for the performance, for the remainder of the play, which locals hailed as a triumph of creativity, organisation and quality.
Richard Paget, of Marlborough, said: "It was fantastic, moving and profound, especially the Mary Magdalene scene. It was a huge effort and could not have been done better."
Rector of St Mary's Church, Andrew Studdert-Kennedy, said: "I was lucky enough to be one of the disciples who followed the crowds and it was incredible to be part of. It was a truly remarkable event. The town centre was packed and they were all there to witness a wonderful achievement of team work."
"It was all that I had hoped and envisaged when the idea first took shape in my head more than a year ago. People experienced for themselves some of the intense emotion that would have been felt 2,000 years ago," said Helen Stokes, the play's artistic director.
Six collection buckets were being held by stewards on the day in aid of the Wiltshire Air Ambulance Airbase Appeal and it is expected that hundreds of pounds has been raised from the day.
The show's production manager David Wylie added: "Marlborough pulled off its first Community Passion Play with gusto. Mary Magdalene’s re-uniting with the Risen Lord moved people to tears. We are just so pleased to be able to give something back to the community after the amazing support we had from so many businesses, organisation, and individuals in bringing this off."
During the 4-6pm play, all of which was made possible after organisers received £15,000 in donations and grants, Roman soldiers marched into the town and arrested councillor Nick Fogg too.
"I have loved being part of the team that managed to deliver a passion play in Marlborough. People were bowled over by it all," said Liz Woods, the play's press officer.
The crosses were lent by the Roman British Re-enactment Society Legio Secunda Augusta and the horses were provided by the Riding for the Disabled Association.