St Mary’s Church in Huntingdon was the setting for Shakespeare at the George Trust’s opening performance of The Nativity on Wednesday night.
The location provided a wonderful atmosphere, and the clever stage setting and lighting allowed the audience to feel as if they had been transported to a medieval market place to watch beautiful and engaging street theatre.
The Nativity is a modern revival of the original Mystery Plays that were traditionally performed outdoors. They were written in verse, rich in comedy and used to teach the Christian message using Biblical characters.
In the 1970s, the Medieval Mystery Plays were adapted for The National Theatre by Tony Harrison.
Under the direction of Richard Brown - we witnessed the Creation and the Fall of Lucifer; Noah’s Ark, the Birth of Christ and the journeys of the kings and the shepherds en route to Bethlehem, and finally, the destruction of the wicked, but highly amusing, King Herod.
This fusion of faith and humour provided some wonderful comedy moments with familiar characters who broke the traditional mould to give us panto-style slapstick in a Biblical setting.
There were some truly wonderful stand-out performances, from Les Roberts (Noah) and a frying-pan-wielding Collette Parker (Mrs Noah) and the fight scene (yes, really) between the two was hilariously funny. As was Mrs Noah’s response: “I sit not dry” as the water starts to creep up round her ankles.
Simon Maylor, who produced, and took on the role of King Herod, took command of the stage as he sauntered and bellowed and reeked his havoc. ‘King Herod in a string vest’ is not a line I thought I would ever write, but it worked beautifully.
Richard Brown (Mak and Death) was mesmerising as the devious Mak, his body language and fast-paced delivery brought the character to life.
As you would expect at this time of the year, there was some audience participation and the band Roy Bellass (guitar) John Durrant (percussion) Jim Stewart (bass guitar) and Richard Durrant (trumpet) deserve a mention as does the costume department.