Stars explained: * A production of no real merit
with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not
enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real
life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A
good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely
achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a
great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major
flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic
which lifts theatre to another plane.
Young at heart - Mrs Horrocks' class in rehearsal
Flint Street Nativity
The Rose Theatre, Kidderminster
TIM Firth’s Flint Street Nativity began life as a TV Comedy first screened in December 1999. It’s a dramatic compilation of events and facts amassed from Firth’s own family and his own mother who was a teacher at his school.
The story focuses on the classroom of teacher Mrs Horrocks, who is never seen, but is coordinating the rehearsals and then the performance of Flint Street school’s nativity play. All of the parts are played by adults and while the usual primary school conflicts amongst pupils are there, it’s the fact that its adults acting them out where the ironic laughter is often found.
There are naive reflections of being in love, pregnancy and where babies come from all comically appearing in the voices of the adult cast.
While the nativity play starts to take shape there is an undercurrent of the more difficult adult home life of the parents that comes out in the conversations of the children. It’s not easy for adults to play children without it being annoying but the Nonentities cast managed it with relative ease and the play’s darker undertone of broken homes gives rise to some of the best laughs.
There are too many interrelated stories to mention but there’s Mary (Rebecca Beckett) who knows all the lines of the nativity play but is having her part jealously eyed by Gabriel (Charlotte Moseley) with result that they end up with two baby Jesus.
There’s the Angel (Hannah Tolley) bullied by Gabriel and being made to not converse with the other children.
The wise men are Frankincense (Alex Powell) with his speech difficulty facing public ridicule and fear at the mere thought of just pronouncing the word. He is goaded into stage confidence and the additional use of profanity in his lines by the cardboard boxed head of the Donkey (David Wakeman). Wiseman Gold, (Hilary Thompson) seems confused by everything and panicking at almost every request and task.
The geeky loner Star (Chris Kay) waffles on about the real composition of stars and the absence of his father and hopes for his Uncle from NASA to appear at the play.
The Innkeeper (Simon Hawkins) is in love with the flowery smell of Mary and yet a bully to Star daring him to do all sorts of challenges yet sadly recounting the smell of beer and cigarettes in his home.
The sporty Joseph/Herod (Callum Morris) knows nothing about his part but revels in his imagination of question of sport and the TV world. It’s all held together sort of by the Narrator (Mary Field) who calmly tries to explain why the school hall is being rebuilt and the story of the birth of Jesus.
Finally there’s the Shepherd (Pat Gale) a farm raised child who has a more reality based view on the world, comparing the Immaculate Conception amusingly to the process any female Cow might have go through.
Director Chris Clarke must have had a tough job balancing the laughs with the pathos. At times the chaos seemed real and the fact that the school play is an amateur one masked some timing issues on the night. Nothing though that detracted from the enjoyment for the packed audience, who lapped up every moment of this Christmas pantomime antidote.
With Keith Rowland on piano, the play feature some very funny reworded carols and the addition of the oversize props and stage set all helped to make some big laughs.
You will not fail to enjoy this trip down memory lane either remembering your own involvement or your children’s in the school nativity play and of course the seasonal use of Dressing gowns and tea towels as essential costume items. To 03-12-16.