For the first time in I don’t know how long, Laura and I took a trip to the theatre last week. Unfortunately, it was to a sweltering, jam-packed school hall for our son Dylan’s inaugural Christmas Nativity play.
Ahead of curtain up, tensions ran high. Would Dylan sing the rude version of one (or more) of the Christmas carols? Would the race to get on stage result in a pile-up of tinsel tiaras, cardboard wings and towelling robes? And would the dad sitting next to me, who’d just found out his kid had been cast in the dialogue-free role of ‘2nd Camel’, go on a Michael-Douglas-in-Falling-Down style rampage?
Fortunately, none of the above. Although I did catch said father wincing as his son was bent over and ridden around the stage like a Grand National winner by a bigger boy holding a riding crop. Much as the teachers winced when two of the cast held a piece of scenery the wrong way around, giving audience members the sight of a broom handle haphazardly masking taped to a load of crisps boxes, not the carefully-painted façade of the stable.
I also suspect the real Wise Men took greater care of their gifts for the Son of God than booting them around the streets of Bethlehem. Nor do I recall the entire town (including animals) clubbing together in the New Testament for a rousing rendition of We Wish You A Merry Christmas.
Yet forget all that. In between waving to their relatives and staring at the ceiling, the children were magnificent, not to mention very sweet! 90-odd four and five year olds belting out an array of festive tunes, dancing beautifully and diligently remembering their lines, no matter how nervous they might have been.
What’s not to like?
(Answer: the parents who spent most of the 30 minutes blocking my view with their mobile phones. I mean, do you really need to film the entire thing?! What kind of glutton for punishment watches it all again?)
Sure, there was more comedy than Canon, and yes, the last two minutes felt a bit like desperately waiting for the microwave to ping as your hangry toddler chews on the furniture. But overall, it was a tour de force (with a bit of farce mixed in too).
Like the rest of the audience, Laura and I left thoroughly entertained, in awe of the patience, hard work and control of the teachers, and very proud of ‘Narrator 3’. We’ll certainly be back for the sequel next year.
Unless Dylan gets ‘2nd Camel’ of course.