WHAT a devil of a good idea! The York Mystery Plays ventured into new territory on Wednesday when taking over Shambles Market for the evening for the first time.

At the invitation of Make It York, the York Festival Trust and the Guilds of York added a special performance of the 2018 pageant wagon production that presented five plays under the title of The Mysteries After Dark.

Preceded by early music played by the York Waits, the plays were steered around the market by York horror actor James Swanton's Lucifer, a black-robed, winged and horned master of ceremonies determined to see evil triumph over good with a hectoring line in black humour and darkest intentions. "Come on, come on," he urged the crowd of 125 to shout "Crucify him". "You're all going to hell anyway." .

Tom Straszewski, the 2018 production's visionary artistic director and pageant master, equipped Lucifer with the Devil's best lines from the York Cycle of plays, bolstered by choice lines from the Wakefield and Chester plays too.

Swanton's Lucifer oversaw the evening's progress around five locations, where wagons were placed for The Lords Of Misrule's Cain And Abel; the Company of Cordwainers' all-female The Temptation Of Christ; the Company of Butchers' The Crucifixion and Death Of Christ; York Mystery Plays Supporters Trust's The Harrowing Of Hell and Ravens Morris's Judgement Day, their white clothing lit up with fairy lights as darkness descended.

All five plays, along with six more, can be seen on Sunday at College Green, St Sampson's Square, St Helen's Square and King's Manor between 11am and 5.30pm.

Charles Hutchinson