The Narrow Road Virtual Tour Part 1

We start with a post from the director, Erin Burbridge:

Even after directing the 2019 version, this production felt completely different. I was delighted to discover much more about each scene and character, working with four actors who were very generous with their ideas.  They also nodded patiently and went along gracefully with each bizarre metaphor I used to inspire their performances or just to create sense of ‘play’ in the rehearsal room. We had fun.

What’s the story?

The Road is a journey through contemporary Israel/Palestine made by three pilgrims who encounter some of the events of the life of Jesus as they reach the places where these took place. The road is the journey through the varied landscapes of the Holy Land but it is also the person of Jesus himself, as he lives out and marks out the road which he calls his disciples to walk with him, both then and now.

The journey tracks right back to a pregnant mother under the stars on the road to Bethlehem.  It winds its way on towards Jesus’s encounters with individuals from different walks of life, to ministry alongside his disciples in Galilee, to Gethsemane, his trial before Pilate, to the crucifixion. Finally the play ends on the road to Emmaus.

Though we know nothing about their faith or background, the three pilgrims are engaging figures.  We see them interact viscerally with the landscape around them and with the intense events into which they are plunged. They represent us, the audience, trying to make sense of this journey.  I loved working with Miriam, John and Johnny as they morphed seamlessly from one person to another.

Your favourite part of the play?

Lots of bits obviously – but Miriam and Simon’s playing of the scene between Jesus and the Samaritan woman who comes alone in the heat of the day to Jacob’s well, often had me fighting back a few tears. The scene begins in a tense atmosphere – the woman is shocked by this unprecedented approach from a Jewish rabbi making conversation with her. Despite her sharp, nervous responses, Jesus’s offer to her of living water remains clear and uncompromising. As the scene concludes, when she realises who she’s talking to, the sense of release, of jubilation was infectious. It swept me up every time!

SANA           You have nothing to draw water with.


JESUS         I have you. (He drinks) Thank you. It is good water. Sweet. But anyone who drinks this will be thirsty again. Yet, whoever I give water to, Samaritan or Jew, will not thirst again because my water becomes a spring, becomes a well, becomes life itself. Eternal life in a dying place.

SANA           Sir…give me this water. Please, I…I don’t want to come back.


                   You are a prophet! My people worshipped on this mountain. I am forbidden to go to the Temple. Jerusalem. I cannot follow you there!

JESUS         A time is coming when true worshippers will worship in a place called ‘spirit and truth’. This temple has no walls.  This is what God wants.  This is the road he offers.

SANA           I know the Messiah is coming. To make this happen.

JESUS         You have faith. Salvation. The world will be changed.

SANA           You told me everything I ever did. Tell me when he is coming.

JESUS         Here. Now. Speaking honestly with you.

© 2010 Paul Birch


What did you learn in this process?

One thing that was very profound for me was exploring the humanity of Jesus alongside his divinity as Son of God. The play introduces Jesus in the temple as a thirteen year-old boy, taking two elders to task on a technicality of the Law about resurrection. It’s a funny, warm and engaging scene – a brilliant way to introduce us to Jesus at an age when he is still wide-eyed and youthful. Simon’s fantastic portrayal of this moment produced more laughter than we were expecting at our only performance!


What made you laugh the most during rehearsals?

All four actors have a passion for tea that I just don’t share.  I’ll drink tea if I’m cold.  The extraordinary excitement on everyone’s faces when tea was mentioned… by the Jordan, on the sea of Galilee, in Capernaum, or wherever… gave me some good giggles.