A play about the Synod of Whitby and its consequences for the Church has captivated audiences in the Midlands and visits Hull Minster on the last stop of its 2019 tour.
Written by Pat Ashworth and performed by Headland Theatre, it’s a courtroom drama with a light touch and more than a little resonance for own quarrelsome times. It’s the year 664. Pagans in Britain have been converted by two very different sets of missionaries – the authoritarian Romans and the laid-back Irish. They’re each doing their own thing and conflict has arisen over two issues, the dating of Easter and the monks’ haircut.
But it’s what lies beneath the agenda that counts. The King of Northumbria orders a meeting at Whitby Abbey to sort things out once and for all. The Roman side is led by the ambitious Wilfrid, Abbot of Ripon; the Celts by the impetuous Abbot of Lindisfarne. It falls to Abbess Hilda – a woman ahead of her time - to navigate these choppy waters, keep the Abbey running and fulfil her own destiny.
The play – funded by the Arts Council - had its premiere in Southwell Minster in July and has since been to the city church of St Peter’s, Nottingham; the ancient church of St Mary Magdalene in Sutton-in-Ashfield; magnificent Peterborough Cathedral and the hidden gem of St Mary & St Laurence, Bolsover. Each sacred space has provided the stunning backdrop for a close-up experience where the drama happens at the very heart of the audience.