Sewell on Theatre: 2B’s Nativity Play

by philapilus

One was hardly put in mind of Piero Della Francesca

Review by Brian Sewell

Depressingly, this year’s offering to the dramatic muses Thalia and Melpomene once again took place in the School Hall – that most unimpressive and drab of venues. But one cannot blame the actors for that.

What one can – and does – blame the actors for, however, is the appalling quality of the performance. After last year’s debacle one hoped that the budding thespians would put some effort into their art.

But alas, the same ill-prepared cast recited lines in a manner that could only be evidence of severe mental retardation, under the meagre directorial auspices of Mrs Shelley.

The Blessed Virgin was played by ‘Sharonda’ (I mean, honestly, it’s virtually child-abuse) whose lack of projection was matched only by the failure of Joseph (Darren) to remember a single line without prompting.

Yet their combined travesty was as naught compared with a truly execrable Gabriel. Little Beatrice’s sullen delivery and fish-faced ugliness made completely impossible the illusion that she might be archangelic.

Light relief was provided, accidentally, when two of the Three Kings began a fistfight over who should carry which gift.

This escalated magnificently, until a large portion of the cardboard backdrop fell over, knocking a small shepherdess from the stage. Her crying fit was a most satisfactory reprieve.

Even the audience was prole-ish and belligerent. My neighbour turned to me during an early musical number, ‘Clap Hands if You See the Star’, complaining about my “Huffing and tutting”, and insisting I remain silent.

My vituperation, I explained, was a fact of sheer necessity when faced with the horrors of the so-called stagecraft before my eyes, to which she screeched “What do you expect from six-year olds, you nasty fucker?”

To my great pleasure she was then ejected by Mrs Finch, the headmistress, who until now I had always dismissed as a rather sour roly-poly woman, but whom I now consider something of a wonder.

If it were not for little Crispin’s masterful singing the entire play would have been a write-off, and once again I reflected on how he really needed a much bigger part.

A place at the rear of the angelic choir is no place for a boy of such talent, especially when he is one’s own nephew.

Verdict: One star



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