THE people of York have spoken of their shock and disappointment at news that the world-famous Mystery Plays may not be performed again until at least 2010.

Amateur actors and actresses who have taken part in past productions, along with regular members of the audience, flooded the Evening Press with calls after last night's revelations.

The overwhelming message was: "Ten years is too long to wait for another one."

Many also called for the Plays to be performed again against the atmospheric backdrop of St Mary's Abbey in the Museum Gardens, where they were last staged in 1988.

We reported last night that the Minster, the spectacular setting for the Millennium production, might host the Plays again, but only in 2010.

John Robson said he and his wife, Janet, who played Anna the Prophetess in 2000, had been "quite shocked" by the news and both favoured keeping it every few years.

Frank Higgins, who has appeared in several productions, most recently as Annas the High Priest, said: "My view is that every four years should be continued. I think ten years is far too long. York is crying out for more tourism. This is something we cannot afford to miss."

David Holden said: "Ten years is a hell of a long time, and the Olympics and World Cup are held every four years. A lot of people get a lot of pleasure out of the Plays."

Liz Watson said the event should be staged every four years in the Museum Gardens. "There is no place to rival this spectacular setting - with the night sky descending and God on high at the top of the Abbey - it is a vision all would remember and should see. Come on York citizens who remember - let's show them what we can do," she said.

Nancy Prescott said: "They should stage the Plays every few years. Ten years is too long to wait."

Brian Oxberry - he played the Roman Centurion who speared Jesus Christ in 2000 - said: "I'm saddened it isn't taking place. I would have thought every five years was right."

He suggested a completely different approach in 2005 - by staging a new-style play in a Big Top on Knavesmire "with God and Angels on high on a trapeze."

But Linda Terry, who played Mary of Bethany in 2000, took a different view, saying: "You have to be realistic about the costs of a major production." She favoured a ten-year timescale, like the one used with the Oberammergau celebrations in Germany.

Updated: 10:00 Saturday, June 14, 2003