If ever you have been a school teacher, or a Sunday school teacher, or a parent – or if ever you have been a child, you will love this play! In it you will recognise the jealousies, the power plays, the need to be friends, the rivalries, ostracisms, paybacks, the competitiveness and name calling, and the bullying and the vulnerabilities of seven-year olds.
These dynamics are cleverly presented in Tim Firth’s script, and hilariously portrayed by the excellent cast of this fine production by Red Phoenix Theatre, and directed by Michael Eustace (AKA Pedro the Lascivious Donkey). This first class troupe is all so uniformly wonderful that it would be churlish and indecorous to single any one of them out. Not only do they each and collectively do a superb job of conveying these pervasive politics – as much present in a seven-year-old class room as they are in society at large – but they also portray the individual pains and pleasures of being a kid in a collective project for their own enjoyment and also for that of the school and their parents.
In the process we are also privy to the delights of their spontaneity, creativity as the children show their innocence and impressionability, blithely displaying some family secrets and dynamics that influence them and their charming and uninhibited moments.
We learn, for example, that Jesus was a car painter, that Caesar Augustus made all the people pay their taxis, and that Jesus was coming to fill the world with peas. There may even have been some symbolism in the fact that he was decapitated rather than crucified in the chaos into which the finale descends.
This delightful narrative is peppered with songs – all to the tunes of familiar Christmas Carols, but all showing the inner thoughts of the child singing them, cleverly and authentically out of tune. This is one way in which this cast displays their thorough analysis and understanding of the junior psyche that is in all of us if we care to reflect honestly on our “inner child”. It’s not always easy for an adult actor to act authentically as a child. This bunch does. And not only that – they are also convincing as the adults who have affected the children in various ways, gathering after the Nativity Play, giving us further insights into some of the formative influences on the “children” we have been watching.
The set by Kate Prescott is just right as a classroom prepared for a Nativity Play, and Richard Parkhill’s lighting unobtrusively highlights appropriate moments, including the loud alarums indicating disciplinary interventions of the invisible “Miss Horrocks”.
Altogether a most enjoyable, rib-achingly funny, diversionary piece of theatre, excellently done. If you are, or ever have been a teacher, a Sunday school teacher, a parent OR a child, don’t miss it!
Red Phoenix Theatre Company presents
The Flint Street Nativity
by Tim Firth
Director Michael Eustice
Venue: Holden Street Theatre | 34 Holden Street, Hindmarsh SA
Dates: 8 – 17 Nov 2018
Tickets: $25 – $19
Bookings: 08 8225 8888 | redphoenixtheatre.com