JESUS and his disciples will have "banter" in a spiced-up version of the Easter story for Abingdon residents this weekend.

More than 200 amateur actors and schoolchildren will re-enact the last days of Christ in Abingdon Market Place on Sunday at the town's second ever Passion Play.

Director Sam Pullen-Campbell urged people to come and be a part of an unusual theatrical experience.

The former head of drama at Radley College, who lives on the campus, said: "It's an experience to be part of – it's really unusual to have live theatre on that scale produced by local amateur actors.

"It's open to people of all faiths and non-faith. There's been a real attempt to make it accessible. There's deliberately quite a lot of banter between the disciples who are young guys.

"It's not unreasonable to assume that twelve young men who'd worked and travelled together for three years might have had the odd joke between them. Hopefully it’s this kind of imagined detail that will help to bring our story alive."

The play features a towering wooden cross, a real donkey and an emotionally-charged soundtrack written by local composer Heidi Cottrell.

Ms Pullen-Campbell said: "She's incredibly talented. We wanted the play to not be too formal, to be more accessible. It's got quite a musical feel."

She said she wanted to move the story away from the church and give women a voice by using female narrators.

Andy Wallis, who acts as a market trader, said the play had been an "awesome experience" in helping him make friends as a new resident in the town.

He added: "I have never before experienced such camaraderie. The people of this town have worked together with such love and respect it has been a real privilege to be a part of this production."

Ian de Villiers, who plays Easter villain Pontius Pilate, said: "It's a mixture of learning, fun, adrenaline and fear. It's just great to see how the performance of a motley crew of hundreds from across Abingdon is coming together into real drama. I am loving the chance to have new music and words to bring this old story to life again in our town."

Disciple Dan Sears described the play as an "emotionally gruelling piece of theatre" which has "helped to develop a tradition stretching back over many centuries", while Alison Winder - who plays Mary Magdalene - said it was "a dream to be on stage".

She added: "The script and music make this play something really special. Even though this is an emotionally challenging role I have had so much fun meeting people and working under our awesome director".

The town's last Passion Play in 2013 attracted an audience of more than 1,200 in the Abbey Gardens, despite below-freezing temperatures.

Ms Pullen-Campbell, who said the show will go on regardless of weather, advised people to arrive early and that umbrellas were not allowed.

The two performances will begin at 11am and 3pm, with each expected to last about 90 minutes.