Turvey Mysteries Logo Turvey Mysteries


Doomsday was last performed in Turvey on 27th - 29th October 2016. There are currently no plans for another cycle, but never say never - if we have any news we'll post on our Facebook page.

Find us on Facebook


For information on all the performances including cast lists and photos, click the links below.

What is a Mystery Play?

A Mystery Play is a medieval religious dramatisation of a story from the Bible. Mystery plays were performed at religious or church festivals and were most common in the 15th and 16th Century. When a collection of mystery plays running from the Creation through to the Last Judgement are performed together they form the Mystery Cycle.
In medieval times, mystery cycles formed the centrepiece of popular day-long festivals enjoyed by hundreds of people. The mystery plays themselves were performed by local craftsmen’s guilds (or mysteries) who would compete with each other to produce the best play.

Large Turvey Mysteries LogoTurvey Mysteries

Turvey Mysteries first came together in 2005 to perform Tony Harrison's celebrated cycle of mystery plays, as originally staged by the National Theatre with music by the band Home Service. The plays were community productions, in the wonderful historical setting of All Saints' Church, Turvey, Bedfordshire.

The cycle began with The Nativity, which was performed on Friday 13th and Saturday 14th January 2006.

Following on from the success of The Nativity, the second play in the cycle, The Passion, was performed on Friday 23rd and Saturday 24th March 2007.

The final play, Doomsday, was performed on Friday 17th and Saturday 18th October 2008.

The second cycle began in 2014, with The Nativity being performed on Thursday 9th, Friday 10th and Saturday 11th January and The Passion on 26th - 28th March 2015. Doomsday was performed again on 27th - 29th October 2016.

Follow the links on the right for more information and photographs of these productions.

The Tony Harrison Mysteries

Some years ago, poet Tony Harrison created a set of three Mystery Plays based on the medieval Wakefield, Chester, Coventry and York cycles. You may have been lucky enough to see these in production at the National Theatre. The result was pure spectacle, with sights such as Brian Glover as God the Master Builder, complete with hard hat, raised high above His creation by a fork lift truck. There’s also lots of humour – as well as carrying a serious message, the plays are really good fun – and at times rather rude! The audience is treated to elements of pantomime, slapstick and scenes clearly influenced by Monty Python!

About the Music

Music is an integral part of The Mysteries. Working alongside Tony Harrison, Musical Director John Tams, and his band "Home Service" produced a stunning backdrop to the National Theatre production, from sources ranging from Shaker hymns and dance tunes to Bob Dylan and New Orleans jazz. Rooted in the folk tradition, their music weaves a thread through the narrative, a perfect match for the story telling tradition which produced and preserved the Mystery Plays themselves.

However, there is no written score for The Mysteries. There are recordings of some of the music, but in some cases only song titles are mentioned in the script, or the simple stage direction "music". The Turvey production attempts to be as faithful to the original as possible, drawing on the available recordings, and filling in the gaps which remain from similar sources. A key part of this is the use of a large live band, with a line up very similar to the original.

The Company - The Nativity 2014
The Company and Band - The Nativity 2014