LTC Flint Street Nativity – Review

The Flint Street Nativity, The Little Theatre Company, Brewhouse arts centre, Union Street, Burton

Are you in the Christmas mood yet?

Can you remember the last nativity play your child was involved in?

Were there tantrums? Bitchiness? Mishaps and falling out?

Relive it all now – without your children being involved – as the Little Theatre Company brings The Flint Street Nativity to Burton’s Brewhouse arts centre.

Once again LTC takes a work by Tim Firth (Calendar Girls) and brings it to life on the Burton stage. Set in a fictitious school on the Welsh-Cheshire border – which gives plenty of scope for Scouse accents of which Sarah Spencer’s as Gabriel is a belter, as is her death stare at Katie Haywood, cast as Mary, as she tries to not only wrest the lead role in the nativity from her but also to substitute her ‘Baby Jesus’ for the one the teacher has decided on.

There are so many great lines in this show that even if you haven’t had to undergo being the parent of a shepherd – or possibly playing one of the sheep yourself you will identify with.

A strong cast in which Karen Hailstone elicits sympathy as Wise Frankincense and Heather Gallagher and Vanessa Birch convincingly show how they have to ‘toe the line’ to Gabriel’s vision of how the performance should play out.

Leon Ratcliffe and Rob Tunley ably show how our parents imbue us with their own lifestyle choices and personalities and Pete Banton is both threatening and moving as he takes on the role of the innkeeper. Lending considerable comedy and gravitas in their roles are Carol Brown as a shepherd and Mike Mear as an ass. Mark Pearson as the Star of Bethlehem, whose uncle works for NASA and knows that stars don’t have five big sharp points manages to convey the weakness of a person who is right but has someone bigger than him daring him to prove it.

They are ably backed by the others in MIss Horrocks’ class: Vicky Fryer, Jane German, Jackie Pearson, Bethan Waite, Dawn White, Jodie Whitehead, Emily Haywood and Abi Tunley and everybody’s favourite music teacher Tim Robinson.

I have to say that for me the sound balance spoilt the performance for when the leading protagonists were trying to make a point in song, by singing different lyrics against the rest of the cast the levels were such that neither was clear to the audience and I really found it difficult to separate the lyrics.

The Flint Street Nativity is on at the Brewhouse arts centre until Saturday night at 7.30pm each evening with a matinee on Saturday at 2.30pm.

Bill Pritchard.

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