Passion Perfection Draws The Crowds To Adeje

Pagaentry and palms have replaced my old Good Friday morning routine of shale and speedway. Years ago back home it would have been the big opening meeting for Oxford Cheetahs but in Tenerife it’s time for The Passion in Adeje, a stirring piece of street theatre telling the story of Easter, the betrayal and cruxificion of Jesus.

Attention to detail is vital and while 10,000 people jostled for prime positions in Calle Grande, the Roman soldiers and chariots waited as one of the back stage crew used a dust pan to tidy up the enthusiasm of the horses. The whole community takes part in the preceeding months making costumes and scenery and learning their steps for the march through the pages of the bible. This year the new look plaza offered more vantage points and scaffolding in front of the church gave a grandstand view to the early arrivals. At Noon the procession got underway to strident marching music over the many speakers hanging from the tree lined avenue.

There’s quite an expectant hush as it all gets underway and a real feel of reverance and emotion, I had put the hand brake on my over active sense of humour, especially after noticing that the empress carried in her mobile lounge looked quite like Amy Winehouse. The pavements were packed and arms held aloft a sea of cameras to record the first tableau where The Last Supper was played out. All the main characters have head mikes so the crowds can hear the dialogue in Spanish. The music was a mix of old hynms and more modern tunes like I Don’t know How To Love Him from Jesus Christ Superstar, all performed with clarity and emotion.

The action moved down the road with stops for the Garden of Gethsemane and the Roman court as Judas betrays his leader and sentence is passed. Though all this cameramen in robes to blend in film at close quarters for the giant screen further down the street and the TV coverage. Jesus is the only professional actor of the ensemble and he really wrings out every drop as he appeals to the court and is then whipped and forced to take up the cross to carry down to the place of his death. It was heaving down at the smaller plaza where the cruxificion would take place but I managed to dodge through the side streets to get a good spot. It’s all a bit of a scrum down, a tourist in front of me kept complaining that she was missing bits, I told her I would lend her the book.

The finale is stunning, there were many tears being wiped away in the crowd as Jesus was held down and nailed to the cross which was then stood upright. Holding on to small foot and hand holds is difficult enough for Jesus but delivering the speech of forgiveness for his persecuters at the same time takes amazing concentration. After the life ebbed away and Jesus was cut down the body was paraded up the street on an open coffin before the 2 hour masterpiece melted away. Religious or not it’s impossible not to feel the hairs on your neck tingling to this tour de force, many visiting tourists looked genuinely moved and will have discovered something special about the bond between church and people in Tenerife.