The nuanced analysis of a large-scale religious ritual, under the probing scrutiny of a seasoned historian, provides one of the most fruitful entries into the social fabric of a community. The reenactment of the Christian Passion is thusly mined by Trexler, who explores how one Mexican town famed for its annual passion pageant also plays out the power struggles manifest on the larger national stage. With its “visualized brutality” (p. 17), the biblical narrative of Jesus’s last days — from his betrayal in the Garden of Gethsemane, to the way of the cross and his crucifixion on Golgotha — is, for the lower classes, “congruent with their own experience of scarcity, injustice, brutality, and early death” (p. 220), whereas the triumphant Easter resurrection of Christ is not. Street theater imitates life in ways unscripted and unpredictable; in understanding the interaction of patron, performer, and audience, we gain insight into societal...

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