The Flint Street Nativity (comedy)
Wednesday 15th ~ Saturday 18th October 2014
Director: Yvonne Howard
Musical Director: Brenda Binns
The Flint Street Nativity was originally a TV comedy produced for Yorkshire Television and aired during Christmas 1999. Tim Firth rewrote the play and added music for this production at the Liverpool Playhouse.
The eight-year-old pupils of Flint Street Primary School, all played by adults, perform the nativity play for their parents. The story is based on real events, collected over a period of ten years from members of Tim Firth's family and friends who were teachers.
Mizzis Horrocks' class of seven year olds is about to perform their nativity play at Flint Street Junior School for the proud mums and dads - and the occasional social worker. Squabbles arise when Gabriel wants to play Mary, the Star grumbles he's not a proper star like they have at NASA, Herod won't stop waving to his mum and dad and the subversive Innkeeper is determined to liven up the traditional script. And then the stick insect escapes....
The children are played by adults, who later play their parents so the set changes accordingly to reflect the Calendar Girls so you can be sure of a great evening's entertainment!
"Exposes what an ungodly snake pit of paediatric power-politics the staging of your average Nativity play can be ... There are moments when you may wet yourself laughing." - Alfred Hickling, Guardian
|| Annie Culley
Eastern Daily Press (website) 16th October 2014
Review: Flint Street Nativity, Sheringham Little Theatre
It is an annual primary school drama event that provides lifelong memories for parents.
Sometimes for star performances but mostly for the unscripted utterances and actions of its young cast.
This autumn production by the Cromer and Sheringham Operatic and Dramatic Society is part of its centenary year shows.
The clever script penned by Calendar Girls writer Tim Firth puts adults into the children's roles. It demands a lot of the cast who regress to days of wide-eyed innocence, insecurity and clumsiness but with a touch of evil amid the naivety and nativity.
The are deadpan deliveries of lines such as "the people went to Bethellyhem to pay their taxis", and "Jesus was a car painter".
The goody two shoes Mary (Joanna Ryan) has a rival in the less than angelic bully Gabriel played superbly by Selina White.
A monotone narrator (Luke Abendroth) provides a moment of pathos when he sees his mum in the audience with a man who is not his dad.
A special needs boy (Martin Howard), who uses the cover of a donkey head to shout rude words, gleefully spots his social worker in the crowd.
There's a sport-obsessed King Herod (Neil Robertson) who lapses into football dives and snippets from a Question of Sport, and a new girl (Ruth Elliot) with a lisp who is reduced to tears by being cast as a wise man having to deliver frankinthense .
There were no weak links in the 12-strong cast - who morph into their parents in the final scene, revealing the frailties and bigotry being passed on to their sons and daughters.
This show - based on real life nativity incidents - is an early Christmas present with tantrums and toilet troubles among the tinsel.
NODA review by East Region District 5 Rep Sue Dupont
Thank you very much for the invitation to see CSODS' Flint Street Nativity; an evening of much mirth and how great to have a sell-out first night.
This is such a clever and funny play. Tim Firth brings out the 'people-watching' to a high, and shows that he understands youth as well as adults in a very humorous mix, and so too did the cast under Director Yvonne Howard - not a trick or pause missed, a good laugh.
Of course every girl wants to play Mary, and Joanna Ryan was no exception, and just loved her spats with Selina White as Angel Gabriel (who really wanted to be Mary) and her relationship with Joseph (Neville Rowe). And Selina's masterly domination of her fellows, the Angel from Annabelle Abendroth and the Wise Man from Janet Hignett, and this threesome really brought home how cruel children can be in class.
This play is all about relationships and they all worked so well. As Narrator, Luke Abendroth made toes curl in sympathy for his worry about lines and lack of confidence. Martin Howard managed the discomfort of the Ass Head with style. Ruth Elliott had her major problems as the other Wise Man -loved the speech and tongue twisters in her struggle to cope. Kat Tindall as the Shepherd joined the scene as did an energetic Star from Matt Scantlebury, and did his 'uncle' really work at NASA?! Richard Delahaye was very grumpy and unhappy as the lnnkeeper, and as Herod, Neil Robertson had his moment of glory.
How the plots changed and amused and also were thought provoking, especially in the latter stage when we met the parents and understood exactly why these children were as they were, behaved and reacted as they did, and had the inter-relationships within the group that were shown.
This big cast play worked so well as all the characters rose to the heights of relationships, a difficult piece to play for adults to return to primary school and exploit the situations (and get over the many laughs in rehearsal). I felt that Tim Firth must have been influenced by a dream of Joyce Grenfell in the writing (think George') as I could hear her in narration!
As the programme stated, we shall never hear those carols and words in quite the same way again and thank you to Brenda Binns for the accompaniment. Liked the set, definitely what is needed and very primary school. And costumes were highly suitable for the piece. Nothing missed to enhance the evening which was much enjoyed by all, and showed the 'comedy side' of the society to balance the serious play at the beginning of your special year.
Congratulations on yet another high standard production.