Starry Night - A Nativity Play

Sat 14th December 2013

reviews

Anwen Jones

at 11:43 on 16th Dec 2013

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Having been subjected to a number of painfully adapted nativity stories throughout my life (including my own performance as one of the many cows in the stable) I am always slightly weary of any reproductions of the Christmas story. However, as a regular audience member of many Bristol Old Vic Theatre School productions, I was sure that if anybody could tackle a two thousand year old story and add a little something extra, it would be this group of performers.

With effortlessly beautiful arrangements of well-known Christmas carols interspersed throughout the whole show, the company provided a festive treat of a performance, delighting both young and old alike. Although the set was minimal - the theatre is also being used for the theatre school’s bigger production The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe during the week - it was wonderfully used; the deconstructed star, the backdrop through which the cast stuck their faces and the three ladders were used both creatively and humourously.

In addition, the energy of the cast was exceptional. Having just finished a previous show a couple of minutes before, the enthusiasm and vibrancy displayed by each individual on stage served as a reminder of the school’s professionalism and commitment to every production.

The three shepherds, Ewan Black, Sullivan Brown, Shala Sayed, did extremely well to capture the younger audience’s attention. Not only did they successful engage with their audience, they pulled them so deeply into the action on stage that at one point the screams and cries of children all over the theatre rose to a deafening crescendo at the appearance of the evil Mak (Harry Egan) and his wife Gill (Erin Doherty). This engagement continued throughout and plenty of laughs and screams followed, accompanied by a number of chortles from the older members of the audience. The welsh accents of God (Peter Edwards) and the Angel Gabriel (Rosie Nicholls) did not go amiss, and I was overcome with a laughing fit when Harrison Reeves unleashed his hilariously high pitched Scottish accent as King number 2. I must also mention Philippa Moss’s portrayal of the landlady, whose fast-paced dialogue and huge gestures were delivered with perfect comic timing and dedication. However, it must be said that the cast were incredibly strong across the board, interacting well with the audience and each other whilst displaying a perfect mix of festive playfulness and professional acting.

Rather like a Disney movie, there was the mischievousness and spirit for the younger audience members to enjoy as well as the implicit, but hilarious, jokes and gags for the slightly more mature individuals watching. It was a joy to watch, and to listen to, and I think I speak on behalf of the audience when I say it certainly evoked the spirit of Christmas, making us all just that little bit more excited for the 25th December.

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Martin Dick

at 14:01 on 16th Dec 2013

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There are times when I wonder if I may be too old for these Christmas shows. However, this funny yet fresh play provides a hilarious adaption of the traditional nativity tale. This is no ordinary tale however, as it manages to offer a quirky, musical, side-splitting, effervescent tone from a young but professional cast.

The cast takes the audience on a pantomime-like experience and manage to give the impression that they are enjoying this show as much as the audience is - a rare and striking gift. In addition, although primarily aimed at kids, the show will be enjoyed by all the family. John Hartoch has impressively managed to effortlessly create jokes that will have you laughing whatever your age.

The musical aspect of the performance was tight and well-rehearsed, interspersed cleverly throughout, something the theatre school and director Heidi Vaughan should be proud of.

The seamless transitions of the actors from character to character were also impressive as well as some of the outrageous accents!

To conclude, this wonderful adaptation of the birth of Jesus will put you and the family in the Christmas spirit. In fact, I am struggling to fault it. I guess I’m not too old.

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