Awry in a manger as Mitre Players go back to school

BELLA BARTOCK has been out and about to see the best of local am-drams’ Christmas shows

Many parents will be dutifully off to see their children perform in the school or church nativity this coming fortnight.

Nativity 1But if you feel comfortable with the adults, including grey-haired old men, playing the roles normally performed by schoolchildren, then you might want to see a rather different type of nativity up at the Trinity Old Mid-Whitgiftians at Lime Meadow Avenue in Sanderstead this week, as the Mitre Players perform Tim Firth’s The Flint Street Nativity.

The Old Boys’ clubhouse has been expertly transformed into an infants school by the Mitre Players’ accomplished production crew, while the “script” of the original has been updated, and includes put downs of New Addington and what seems to be entirely pointless and somewhat dreary references to Question of Sport. Didn’t that ghastly man Stuart Hall use to present that programme?

The cast exhibit well-studied cameos of child-like fidgets and habits, especially Julia Ascott as The Narrator who could be mistaken for Jennifer Saunders in her performance style.

The usual school rivalries as to who should play Mary come to the fore and the petty cruelties of infant school relationships are well-played out. Amidst witty performances across the cast in word and in adjusted carols there are potent references to school bullying, homophobia and special needs.

The pathos is deftly applied, especially by Neil O’Gorman, Lorraine Price and Ascott as to how the children’s lives are adversely impacted by the poor, selfish behaviour and the disorganised lives of their parents.

This is no children's nativity play: the Mitre Players in their Christmas production

This is no children’s nativity play: the Mitre Players in their Christmas production

When the cast re-emerges as adults, playing the school’s teachers, thoughtless parents and an arrogant Mayor (another Croydon reference, perhaps? Who could they have in mind?), the Mitre Players do truly bring the meaning of a witty show in the concluding words that the nativity “really brings it home”.

Mulled wine and plentiful mince pies come with the £12 ticket. Performances continue through until Friday night, though ticket availability is now limited. Booking enquiries can be made to 07914 763422.

The Mitre Players’ next performances are their Easter production of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (that should be cheery) at The Mitre Theatre at Trinity School, April 9-12, and then Monty Python’s Spamalot at the Minack open air theatre, August 18-22.

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