A performance of the Biblical drama, the Passion of Christ, erupted in a brawl in Brazil after a member of the audience jumped on stage to attack an actor in a bizarre bid to “save Jesus” from being crucified.
The actor, playing the role of a Roman soldier, was hit around the head with a motorcycle helmet and kicked by the assailant seconds after pretending to thrust the spear into the side of the messiah.
A video shows the moment the unnamed man leapt on stage in Nova Hartz town centre, south Brazil, on Friday evening to launch his surprise defence of Jesus Christ by attacking and chasing the stunned actor.
William da Silva, the city’s planning director, told G1 more than 1,000 people were in the town square watching the show and at first no one could believe what was happening.
“[The man] leapt up from the middle of the audience and no one guessed what he was about to do,” Mr Da Silva said.
“Witnesses reported the attacker was shouting ‘he was not going to let Jesus die’ before he barged onto stage.”
The outraged man is alleged to suffer from mental health problems and drug abuse and is known to police.
Many watching the Easter spectacle, looked on in disbelief while questioning whether this was part of the drama.
Actors on stage ploughed into the aggressor as they tried to restrain him, but he continued to lash out as fists flew.
The shocked director, Adriano Ferreira, who manages a company of 80 actors, said: “There are some things that are just inexplicable.
“We halted the play for a few moments, but as no one had been injured, we decided to continue with the staging.
He added, Samir Rodrigues, the actor who was beaten with the helmet was scared but unharmed.
“This week, a city businessman gave the Roman soldiers new helmets and that probably ended up protecting Samir,” Mr Ferreira said with relief.
Most notably, throughout the confusion the actor playing Jesus remains calm and zoned into his role, even when the cross nearly pitches over as his colleagues join in the rush to contain the situation.
Many in the audience filmed the dramatic intervention, posting their incredulity and disappointment in comments on social media.
On woman lamented: “People spend months rehearsing something meaningful then along comes someone to ruin everything.
“The show was in the middle of an amazing and beautiful staging of the Passion of Christ, when a man from the audience suddenly jumped on stage and whacked the actor who was playing a soldier on the back of the head with a motorcycle helmet.
“I was devastated to see the event disrupted in such an awful way,” she added.
Another emotional spectator, who was there with her family, said: “We had to do a double take because we weren’t sure whether this was meant to happen or not.
“When I realised it was truly an unprovoked attack, I started to tremble and cried with disappointment at how the theatrical performance had been messed up by this violence.
One of the actors who helped to restrain the man and who didn’t want to be identified, revealed: “He said he didn’t know what he was doing and that he couldn’t remember what he was doing there. He kept shouting at people to get away from him.”
The assailant’s brother who came to the aid of his sibling, claimed he was taking controlled medication and had been suffering from a psychotic episode.
Police have launched an investigation into the incident after a formal complaint of assault was lodged by the victim.